Official Website of the Spirit of Carlton Past and Present
28Jun/100

Roo Pressure Puts Glitch in Blues’ System

In round 12, on the Friday night stage at Etihad Stadium, Carlton suffered what could be called a network breakdown.

Against North Melbourne, the main systems instrumental in the Blues’ promising start of seven wins and four losses failed to connect.

Explaining reasons for the 29-point loss, coach Brett Ratten referred to the usual culprits: “A lack of intensity and skill errors,” he said. “We gave the ball back too easily. That diminished our confidence to run and spread and get involved.”

This is a standard coaching admission that, in reality, reveals nothing. There is no mention of an opposition out there on the playing field, and what it did to stuff up the best intentions of Carlton’s plan. No acknowledgement of the Disruptive Pattern Theory, which was in effect during this game.

Anyone familiar with computer systems should be familiar with the theory. A simple network glitch breeds panic. There is no plan B. What next? No clues! The Roos-Blues game is a good example of how the theory applies in action.

North was outstanding at disconnecting Carlton’s plan A, and then pouncing on the opportunities available. Without an apparent plan B, the Blues looked lacklustre. As Ratten lamented, giving the ball back too easily was certainly the case.

In round 12, on the Friday night stage at Etihad Stadium, Carlton suffered what could be called a network breakdown.

Against North Melbourne, the main systems instrumental in the Blues’ promising start of seven wins and four losses failed to connect.

Explaining reasons for the 29-point loss, coach Brett Ratten referred to the usual culprits: “A lack of intensity and skill errors,” he said. “We gave the ball back too easily. That diminished our confidence to run and spread and get involved.”

This is a standard coaching admission that, in reality, reveals nothing. There is no mention of an opposition out there on the playing field, and what it did to stuff up the best intentions of Carlton’s plan. No acknowledgement of the Disruptive Pattern Theory, which was in effect during this game.

Anyone familiar with computer systems should be familiar with the theory. A simple network glitch breeds panic. There is no plan B. What next? No clues! The Roos-Blues game is a good example of how the theory applies in action.

North was outstanding at disconnecting Carlton’s plan A, and then pouncing on the opportunities available. Without an apparent plan B, the Blues looked lacklustre. As Ratten lamented, giving the ball back too easily was certainly the case.

The supposedly lessercredentialled Kangaroos ‘won’ 79 turnovers from the Blues’ disposals and scored a matchwinning 9.8 (62) from these opportunities. In contrast, Carton won only 57 turnovers from North Melbourne disposals and scored just 4.4 (28) from these chances.

Importantly, the Roos knocked the Blues off their perch around the stoppages. Before the game, Carlton’s main strength had been its ability to out-score its opposition from stoppage wins.

During the game, the Blues had an exceptional advantage of 47 clearances to North’s 27. However, this domination resulted in Carlton scoring only 17 points more than the Kangaroos from their respective stoppage wins.

How could these two discrepancies have occurred? What is Carlton’s plan A? How was it derailed? What mattered in this instance is how North Melbourne applied pressure to the Blues’ system, and the effect this pressure had.

Carlton is the most captaindriven club of any. It’s not unlike North Melbourne of the 1990s under skipper Wayne Carey. Like the Carey example, the Carlton system is engaged to accommodate the exceptional talents of Chris Judd.

Watching Judd take flight, drawing opposition flak while teammates, confident he will prevail, are lining up in attacking positions, is among the most compelling forces in footy. It is a mistake to think the system is a one-man-show. If too much attention is paid to Judd, the likes of outstanding lieutenants Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs can get you.

Carlton takes pride in its dominance and effectiveness at stoppages. After Geelong, it is the second-best team at outscoring the opposition from stoppage wins. Slick and efficient exits from stoppages also propel Carlton’s run-and-spread caper.

In their seven wins, the Blues have averaged a remarkable 50 more kicks than their opposition, which is the highest kick differential for any winning team. Hence the supply to their revamped livewire forward structure (minus Brendan Fevola) has been top-notch, and the forwards generally have delivered.

But Carlton has lost five games and what has broken down in these losses is revealing. It has suffered a spectacular drop in kicking dominance, averaging 15 fewer kicks than its opposition in these games.

Against North, Judd, Murphy and Gibbs, along with Eddie Betts (five goals), made important contributions. However, the Roos were outstanding at limiting the roles played by the rest of the team.

North Melbourne, a team that usually struggles to outnumber its opposition for total kicks, evened the score with Carlton. Blaming the Blues’ lack of intensity and skill errors for the loss does not give due credit to how good the Roos were at disconnecting the captain’s system.

The sustained pressure North applied produced 31 turnovers forward of centre, while Carlton could manage only eight in its forward half. The result was further endorsement of the Kangaroos’ work-in-progress development. Carlton should also gain valuable lessons for improvement. Handling pressure and applying it are two of the keys to success.

Take note: the grand masters at these capers are Geelong and St Kilda. They clearly disconnect opponents better than any other teams.