ALAN Richardson has only been at Melbourne for just over two months, but he likes what he has seen to date.
While the Dees are coming off a disastrous season, the former St Kilda coach is confident the group is ready for a big 2020 campaign.
“The players are in a really good headspace and they’ve attacked the pre-season,” Richardson told Melbourne Media.
“They’ve embraced the changes that we’re going to make to the way we’re going to play, and they’ve embraced the challenges that have been thrown at them physically.
“It was made pretty clear to them that we needed to become fitter and stronger and more able to cope with the rigours of AFL footy.
“That means it’s been a really challenging pre-season for them, but they’ve done a great job.”
On the back of the adversity of 2019, the players are hungrier than ever to respond next season and have matured significantly in a short space of time.
“The group is quite advanced, and we needed to be,” Richardson said.
“The players have come back to make a statement that they want to bounce back. They want to make sure they leave no stone unturned to give themselves the best opportunity to bounce back.
“All they could control over their break was committing to their running program and making sure they were eating the right stuff and showing the right amount of discipline to come back in good nick.
“They did that, which meant we could really get going in terms of rolling out the footy program and for Darren Burgess to hit them pretty hard with the conditioning program. That gave us a really good start.”
Although the boys are currently away on their Christmas break, Richardson says the work they’ve done so far will hold them in good stead when they return to the club.
“I’d be surprised if they didn’t go away feeling like they know they’re in really good physical condition and that we’re quite advanced in terms of understanding the way we want to play,” he said.
“Their training reflects that, so that should give them a lot of belief that we’re on the right track, knowing that we’ve got a lot of work to do post-Christmas, but we’re heading the right way.”
Plenty of changes have been made to the football department over the off-season, with Melbourne’s coaching group looking to take things to the next level in 2020.
“They’re a good group, they’re quite an experienced group of coaches, and that makes my job pretty easy,” Richardson said.
“My job at this stage of the year is to help take a concept and train it to make sure we get real clarity, so that when we’re under pressure in the games, the boys can act on instinct as opposed to second guessing.
“The coaches are doing a really good job.
“The way they’re educating, the way they’re giving the boys the opportunity to train what it is they’re educating, and then reviewing it to achieve clarity – it has been impressive.”
The Demons will return to AAMI Park on Friday as their pre-season work continues.