The solution to Essendon’s midfield

May 12, 2022 BY

Direction: Bombers’ coach Ben Rutten is facing increasing pressure following his sides slow start to the season. Photo: ROB PREZIOSO/ AAP IMAGE

ESSENDON legend Tim Watson believes the Bombers do not need an external review into their slow start to 2022, instead offering a different solution to fix the on-field woes.

Their midfield has copped the brunt of the blame from fans and media pundits, and reports have surfaced that players are confused about their roles within the team.

Bombers champion Matthew Lloyd suggested an external set of eyes would be beneficial if the club chose to do another review, however Watson believes the problems at The Hangar can be fixed internally.

When asked by SEN Breakfast co-host Garry Lyon whether there is a need for an external review, Watson was resolute in saying the Bombers’ problems should be fixed by the club’s coaching panel.

“There appears to be, and we had [Essendon deputy vice-captain] Andrew McGrath on our news yesterday talking about their midfielders and midfield problems… and there’s confusion,” he said.

“So they don’t need a review, what they need to do is get each of those midfielders who is potentially confused about what they should or shouldn’t be doing and sit them down individually and say, ‘Okay, this situation, what do you think we should be doing around stoppage, centre bounce stoppage, where do you think you should be?’.

“Do it individually and find out whether or not there is some confusion for a start and get those guys on the one page.

“That’s not an external review, that’s an internal review about the way you’re playing and your game plan and the way you’re coaching.

“Coaching is teaching, and teaching is communication, if there is a breakdown here in communication then that needs to be resolved and fixed.”

Ben Rutten is in just his second year of senior coaching after taking over from John Worsfold at the end of 2020.

After the strong start to his coaching career, this presents as the first time the 38-year-old has been under significant pressure in the coaches’ box.

“In this business, and we’re all guilty of this, we go from 0-100 really quickly, a side loses a couple of games and we start talking about sacking their coach and external reviews, this to me appears to be a problem where potentially everyone is not on the same page, and the players have spoken about it, about where and how they should perform their roles in the team,” Watson continued.

“It shouldn’t be the case, but it is the case, and that’s what you’ve got to fix.

“That’s not an external problem, we’re talking about problems specific to the ways they’re playing, and they need to be dealt with in the coaching framework, get in and sort out a lack of communication.

“That’s what the coaching staff are there to do, they’re there to get the players on the same page and articulate to them what they need to do.”

Meanwhile, Rutten isn’t the only man in the firing line for the club’s record that has them 16th on the ladder with a percentage of 72.3.

List manager Adrian Dodoro has been in the role since 2010 and is yet to see a finals win in his tenure, with criticism coming his way over the holes in the club’s list.

However, Watson brushed off criticism directed at the club’s recruiting.

“When you win you look inwardly and when you lose you look outwardly, that’s the way it is and that’s where Essendon are at,” he said.

“People weren’t saying this at the end of last season, they weren’t saying this when Essendon finished in the finals last year, they were saying, ‘Great recruiting, you’ve got [top 10 draftees] Nik Cox in, you’ve got Zach Reid and Archie Perkins in’, all this was very positive just six months ago.”