Swans prepare to battle for a top eight spot

by whyilovesport

Quick Glance at 2011: What went wrong, what went right?

2011 marked the start of the post-Roos era, an era which lasted nine years and yielded a drought-breaking premiership in 2005. It was now John Longmire’s opportunity to take the reins. His season started with a draw against Melbourne but ultimately returned respectably, guiding the Swans to seventh on the ladder with 12 wins and nine losses. The season was made to look even better for them after a 25-point upset win away to St. Kilda in the do-or-die elimination final before succumbing to Hawthorn the following week.

Perhaps their best win came in the penultimate round over eventual premiers Geelong. The shock upset was made even more significant because of where it happened, at Geelong’s fortress, Kardinia Park. The 13-point win ended a run of 29 consecutive victories dating back to late in the ’07 season. But with this came losses to teams they should have beaten, including a critical one-point loss to Essendon after missing a shot after the siren. In fact, four of their nine losses were by margins of less than 12 points. Add to that, a draw, and you think, what could have been?

 

Key Player: Without doubt, Adam Goodes is the talisman of the Swans. He is a leader by trade, both in heart and in mind. The amount of times he has come to the fore when the team has most needed him is innumerable. Goodes has the exceptional achievement of winning not one but two Brownlow Medals, and even more impressive is that they have come playing in two different positions. As his career has gone on, he has enhanced his game to such versatility that he’s now one of the most valuable players in the competition. He is the ‘rolls royce’ of the side and can play in virtually any position. It was no surprise to see him winning the Bob Skilton Medal for Sydney’s best and fairest player last year, for a third time.

 

3 Most important games and why.

Round 1 v GWS: On paper, this might seem like a lop-sided match-up, but in a stand-alone fixture, all eyes will be fixed on the season opener. In the first edition of what has been dubbed  ‘The Battle of the Bridge’ by Giants’ coach Kevin Sheedy, Sydney will be out to mark their territory. Sydney will go in at extremely short odds, but it’s their chance to send a statement to the rest of the competition.

Round 20 v Collingwood: Collingwood were the benchmark team right through last season and Sydney almost beat them last year. The Swans were leading midway through the last quarter in round 14 but their inexperience showed and the Magpies got over the line, only just though, by six points. Their corresponding fixture this year at Olympic stadium presents a great chance for redemption.

Round 22 v Hawthorn: Sydney have a horror run of opponents to finish the season. In four of their last five home-and-away fixtures, they play probably the best four teams in the competition (Geelong, Collingwood, Hawthorn and Carlton). The prospect of the Swans making the finals could hinge on a crucial home fixture at the SCG against Hawthorn. It’s winnable but difficult at the same time. It’s what they call an ‘eight-point game’.

 

What to expect in 2012.

Expect, from Sydney, in 2012, what we normally expect from Sydney, and that is a toil, grit and consistency. They are far from being the best team in the competition but they make the most of their resources to get the best out of themselves.

I expect the Swans to finish about where they finished last year, so in the lower part of the top-eight; if riddled by injuries, then maybe just outside. In terms of their playing roster, Sydney are at a delicate stage after this season, where they may need an overhaul of their list.

Sydney only have four premiership players from their ’05 winning side – Adam Goodes, Jude Bolton, Ryan O’Keefe and Lewis Roberts-Thomson. It is this nucleus mixed in with fledgling youngsters Daniel HanneberyKieren Jack and Josh Kennedy that Sydney are banking on to provide the recipe for short-term success. But ultimately, they need a re-jig if they are serious about a premiership in the long-term future.

You can follow me on Twitter @farhanshah195.

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