The Suns may be having their most disappointing season ever, but 2017 can still be salvaged as the year it all turned around.
The coach is gone, hopes of playing finals are well and truly over, and majority of fans are resigned to the little master leaving Metricon at seasons’ end.
Call me an optimist, but the more the Suns fail, the more I am reminded of that great line from Paul Kelly’s ‘Bradman’;
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“They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn
And in the hour of greatest slaughter, the great avenger was being born.”
There is no denying it is pretty pitch black right now for Suns fans, but interim coach Dean Solomon and List Manager Scott Clayton can combine over the next two months to turn 2017 into the year that dawn broke.
The first thing that needs to happen is that the plethora of young talent that the Suns have accrued over the last three seasons need to start being given permanent midfield roles.
Forget Aaron Hall seagulling his 35 offensive touches, the club, its fans and most importantly the players, need to all know what the kids on the Suns list are made of in the middle.
I’m talking about Hallahan, Martin, Fiorini, Ah Chee, Ainsworth, Bowes, MacPherson and Brodie.
They were all prolific ball winners in junior footy but have come to the Suns and found it’s hard to get lots of footy from a pocket especially when G Ablett is playing.
With no Ablett this week Solomon is gifted the perfect chance to throw some kids in as genuine midfielders, not half forward flankers or pocket players who get their 12 touches and 1 goal.
Which of this group can get to 25 hard-earned touches against a hardened Lions midfield?
Which of this group will join Touk Miller, David Swallow and Jarrod Lyons as the on-ball brigade of the future for the Suns?
I suspect if this plan is implemented, Suns fans (and coaching staff) would quickly find out that the side has some absolute A-Graders about to blossom in that midfield.
But they need sunlight asap.
The second thing that needs to happen for dawn to break on the Suns fortunes is for Scott Clayton to do whatever is necessary to acquire an absolute premium key position defender.
Not a plodding defensive backman a few years off retirement.
I am talking bringing in someone like Harry Taylor or Michael Hurley – dominant defensive players who read the ball coming in, use the ball well and can go forward if needed.
For too many seasons the club has looked at Thompson and May and taken a ‘she’ll be right’ approach.
Injury has struck and the rot sets in from there.
If the worst thing to happen in 2018 is Thompson and Leslie playing NEAFL all season, then the Suns will be in great shape.
Harry Taylor for Ablett is a trade the Suns must consider strongly.
With a bolstered key defence and host of talented exuberance around the footy, the Suns’ fortunes will turn in a flash.