THE MELBOURNE Football Club has taken the opportunity over the mid-season break to explore all avenues for improvement in the back-end of the 2019 season.
The Demons have undoubtedly had a disappointing start to the year, and General Manager of Football Operations, Josh Mahoney, isn’t shying away from the club’s current position.
“It certainly hasn’t gone to plan this year – we didn’t expect to be in this position on the ladder at the mid-way point of the season, let alone dealing with so many long-term injuries to senior players,” Mahoney told Melbourne Media.
“At different times throughout the year we have tried a variety of initiatives in an attempt to get us back playing our style of football, but we have clearly found it challenging to execute over four quarters.
“Over the last couple of weeks, the club has taken the opportunity to seek feedback from players, coaches and football staff to identify the clear opportunities for us to improve for the back-half of the season.”
After some structural changes have been made, the coaching set up is as follows:
- Jade Rawlings will become the club’s forward coach, and as a result, will step aside as the Casey Demons’ VFL coach
- Troy Chaplin will become the standalone backline coach
- Ben Mathews will remain in the position as stoppages and contest coach
- Craig Jennings will remain in the position as assistant coach (strategy and education coordinator)
- Justin Plapp will remain in the position as midfield development coach
- Greg Stafford will remain in the position as ruck coach
- Matthew Egan will remain in the position as head of development
- Max Rooke, formerly the forward coach, will move into the position of development coach
- Brendan McCartney will move from defensive coach to an overall mentoring position of the AFL and VFL assistant coaches
- Sam Radford has stepped up from assistant coach at Casey Demons to become the senior VFL coach
The shifts at senior level have provided Radford with the opportunity to lead the VFL team – a move Mahoney is very comfortable with.
“When we went through all the candidates, Sam Radford … became the leading candidate to take over for the remainder of the year,” he said.
“He’s already got established relationships out there with the players, he knows our game style, he’s coached senior footy in his own right to premierships at amateur level and we know he’s excited by that opportunity.”
Additionally, the Dees’ medical team is preparing for the departure of Elite Performance Manager, David Misson, at the end of the season, as he moves to Canada with his family.
For the remainder of 2019, Dr. Zeeshan Arain is stepping up to become the head of medical services, while Phil Merriman will take his opportunity as the head of strength and conditioning.
“We knew early days that David Misson was leaving at the end of the year and we really didn’t want to get to a stage where all we get out of that opportunity was just replace Dave in the role,” Mahoney said.
“We looked at the whole department and said, ‘How can we set up a better structure, how can we set up better programs and processes?’, and that probably took three or four weeks of internal interviews with staff, players and coaches.
“We’ve got a structure we’ll put as an interim structure for the remainder of the year and we think it’s an opportunity to look for improvements, but also setting us up for next year when Misso isn’t here.
“Misso will now oversee the implementation of this structure and complete a variety of specific initiatives for the rest of this year.”
While making these adjustments during the season isn’t overly common, Mahoney said there was no point in waiting.
“When you identify those opportunities, you’ve got a choice to make. You either do it now or you do it at the end of the year,” he said.
“Our mindset is we’re not wasting a minute on getting better. We want to attack these last 10 home and away games and give ourselves the best chance to maximise that.”
The entire club is across these movements and Mahoney is pleased with where the football department is currently positioned.
“The players were involved in some of these changes and we asked for their feedback, as we did with the coaches and the staff,” he said.
“When we told the players, it was approached in a really positive manner.”
All of the shifts at the club have been implemented effective immediately.