Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin revealed his side has taken inspiration from tennis great Andre Agassi in its perfect start to the season.
What does Andre Agassi have to do with the Melbourne Football Club?
On face value, one would struggle to work out any connection the Demons might have with the eight-time tennis grand slam champion.
But Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin revealed that the legendary American’s philosophy played a key role in the Demons’ 50-point win over Hawthorn on Sunday – a result that looked a long way off materialising as Melbourne butchered numerous gettable shots on goal.
The Demons could quite easily have dropped their bundle, especially when the Hawks cut the margin to just four points early in the final quarter, but they held their nerve and finished the job emphatically.
“We’ve worked really hard at resetting ourselves and even this week we got a clip from Andre Agassi that spoke about his ability to reset after every point and we’re no different as a footy club,” Goodwin said.
“Whether it’s game, whether it’s a quarter, whether it’s a contest, our ability to reset in the moment and keep playing is really important to us.
“There’s going to be periods of the game when we’re having [forward] entry where we don’t score, we’re missing shots at goal, but we’ve just got to keep playing the way we know we can.”
Captain Max Gawn was the best player on the ground and Goodwin described his performance as “sensational” and labelled him a “special leader”.
There was plenty of heat on the Demons heading into this season following back-to-back bottom-10 finishes, but having started the season 5-0, they look destined for a return to the finals.
Goodwin said building trust amongst the playing group had been a big focus over the summer, and he lauded their ability to each play their role in making that a reality.
“We just want to rock up every week and play the same way, make our supporters proud of the way we play and enjoy what we’ve been able to do,” Goodwin said.
Their next test doesn’t get much bigger – Richmond at the MCG after the reigning premiers produced their most dominant performance of the year against St Kilda. Goodwin hailed the Anzac Day eve game as a “great occasion”, imploring Dees supporters to rally around their team and attend the match.
Meanwhile, Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has flagged the possibility of replacing Jonathon Patton with a new recruit via the mid-season draft.
Patton retired on Friday following his ‘sexting’ scandal over the summer, which Clarkson described as a “complex situation”.
Judging by their performance on Sunday, the Hawks could definitely do with an extra option up forward given they were more than tripled for marks inside 50 (5-17).
“I don’t think you’ll ever find a team winning a game of footy with only five marks inside 50 compared to an opposition’s 17,” Clarkson said.
“That was the difference in the two sides in the end that they were able to find their targets and used them a little bit better than what we did over the course of the game.
“We‘ve got a pretty young forward line at the present time and we required at different stages (Luke) Breust and (Chad) Wingard to help us in the midfield and they’re two experienced forwards.
“And obviously with ‘Gunner’ (Jack Gunston) out of the side at the present time and he’s our reigning best-and-fairest winner.”
Given the Hawks got so close to Melbourne early in the final quarter, Clarkson didn’t think the final margin was a “true indication” of the way the game went.
“In the overall scheme of things the best things for us to do is still learn from what happened in the last quarter but focus on the three quarters of footy where we really served it up to Melbourne and were in front at halftime and only a little margin [10 points] at three-quarter time and got ourselves back in the contest,” he said.
“We didn’t quite get there … the dam wall opened and we need to work out ways to stop that momentum run that the Melbourne side had.”