Monday 29th May 2017,
Dr Sport

Can a Baby Derail a Carton AFL Premiership Campaign?

“Beaten to a pulp, the Blues have been exposed as a premiership myth” – Herald Sun, Monday 21st May 2012.

No media outlet has spared Carlton any wrath over their form reversal. Sitting at 4-1 after winning over in Perth against the Fremantle Dockers, Carlton’s season was thrown into question by the media – starting with an average first half against GWS, then consecutive losses to St. Kilda and Adelaide – both times with Carlton as sports betting favourites here in Melbourne.

They face Melbourne this weekend at the MCG, and now is the perfect time to ask the question – has the “curse of the newborn” struck down the blues?

Yes – Brett Ratten’s newborn baby. Born on the Saturday after their last acceptable performance, where they fought out a gutsy win against Fremantle, they have looked a different team since then, down on the key stats we use here to monitor performance.

Of course we are having a laugh with the “curse of the newborn”. It is an interesting coincidence however.

The truth is form reversals are nothing new – it’s hardly a form reversal anyway at this stage as much as a bad patch. But it is part of the reason why watching sport with the sound turned down can be a worthwhile approach. Sports media are experts at taking short term analysis to a ridiculous level and drawing sweeping conclusions from it – as I have done with the Brett Ratten baby example above (whose name is Tilly Mary by the way).

Looking at the situation with a clear head and season-long view – Carlton shouldn’t be and wouldn’t be, thinking that their season has come off the rails. If we look back as recently as the 2010 season, Carlton still played finals despite losing 3 from 4 going into the finals, by margins of 68, 39 & 48 points, with a team that wasn’t peaking like the current list. At the time some were even calling for Ratten’s head. They went down narrowly to Sydney in the first final up in Sydney. Hardly a disgrace.

A similar situation is currently underway at the Fremantle Dockers, with coach Ross Lyon now facing media reports of a “revival called into question” after 2 losses in a row, albeit heavy losses, over the past two weeks.

You cannot write off the Dockers prospects any more than you can the Blues in 2012.

Both are the victims of high expectation and the short term media cycle requiring a target each week. Carlton are missing Carazzo – a key midfielder in the structure, but could find a way without him. Fremantle are hampered by adjustment to the new Ross Lyon gameplan – but likewise could easily straighten up and can easily be much better in 2013.

“Could”. Nothing is certain in AFL, which is why it’s such a brilliant sport.

As is always the case – the long term gets you paid – and gets you the flags… but doesn’t sell papers and certainly shouldn’t be written in stone.

Follow along on twitter https://twitter.com/progamblercomau

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