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Ten teams missed the finals

The ten-day break before finals allows plenty of time to assess the premiership contenders, not that there are actually that many, and we’ll get to them next week as the countdown ramps up.

But ten clubs didn’t make it to September, all with their future up in the air.

Where to from here for the also-rans?

9. Carlton 
Missing out on finals with 12 wins doesn’t happen every season, but it’s reasonably common, and that is the Blues’ fate.

Melbourne did in 2017 and we know what their future held. But North, St Kilda and Port have also done it in recent years, so it can go either way.

Despite their long, sad history of failure, Carlton look well placed to follow the Dees to premiership contention and even glory. Two Coleman Medallists in Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow up forward, both with impressive marking prowess; a key defender in Jacob Weitering that you can build around, which they’ve done; and a midfield led by a future Brownlow Medallist in Sam Walsh, with plenty of depth in the support from Patrick Cripps, George Hewett, Matthew Kennedy and Adam Cerra.

Top four can, must and will be the minimum expectation next year, with this years collapse out of finals burning inside them.

10. St Kilda
If ever there was a club on the road to nowhere, it’s this one. The Saints have played finals once in the last 11 years and have an average finishing position on the ladder of 12th during that time.

For the second year in a row they finish tenth, they must surely have the longest list of ‘nothing’ players in the competition, and saw fit to extend Brett Ratten for another two seasons of mediocrity despite him frequently sending out teams that lack intensity and polish.

Max King’s set-shot kicking issues should have been obvious to all early on – from his first games, he didn’t have a repeatable routine when lining up, mixing his walk-in distances and pace, and he has frequently lacked momentum through the ball at the point of contact. It has been a deplorable piece of coaching.

11. Port Adelaide
The Power are a club crying out for a new voice and fresh blood in the coaches’ box. They are odds-on to get it halfway through next season, sometime between Rounds 10 and 14, when Ken Hinkley finally gets shown the door in the last year of his contract. We’ve all seen this film before.

Port have suffered their lowest finish under Hinkley, Robbie Gray has retired, Karl Amon has walked, Charlie Dixon is close to finished, Tom Jonas is fading, Travis Boak is on his last legs, and Ollie Wines is the worst Brownlow winner since Shane Woewodin, as evidenced by the fact he couldn’t even make the All Australian team this year.

It’s time for a new era at Alberton, and next year will be a wasted one given they’ve delayed the inevitable.

Power coach Ken Hinkley looks on

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

12. Gold Coast
Plenty of people, even halfway through this season, seemed to think the Suns should have been playing finals this year, which was about as fanciful a notion as thinking Essendon is the essence of stability. They’re not there yet, and having finished 17th, 18th, 14th, 16th the last four years, were never going to be.

Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult were sensational for them up forward this year, but is it a sustainable forward duo? Izak Rankine certainly evolved, but might be gone. That’s 40 per cent of their goals from 2022 with a question mark, so they still have a way to go.

Noah Anderson is now a gun, but he and Touk Miller still need more two-dimensional support in the midfield, while the defensive structure from Stewart Dew is sound enough but needs to go up a level to push for finals.

13. Hawthorn
Sam Mitchell surprised a few in his first year in charge, pushing his Hawks to a mid-table finish despite being widely tipped for the wooden spoon. They looked bright in their ball movement on many occasions, but weren’t hard to play against, which is something that he will want to change.

The list profile is still in a state of transition, and it will be interesting to see what becomes of Tom Mitchell, Jaegar O’Meara, Jack Gunston, Luke Breust, and Chad Wingard in particular.

Hawthorn gets a tick this year.

14. Adelaide
2020 – 18th with three wins and a percentage of 64.

2021 – 15th with seven wins and a percentage of 81.

2022 – 14th with eight wins and a percentage of 86.

They say progress isn’t linear, but the Crows under Matthew Nicks are shaping that way so far. Fans and commentators can become impatient, but it’s easy to like what Adelaide are building under their coach.

A good six to eight players had career-best seasons, suggesting Nicks is developing player and team nicely, but for his fourth year in charge it would be nice to see more defensive steel added.

The Crows have averaged about 90 points against in both of the last two seasons, and that number should be at least two goals less to show they are ready for finals contention.

15. Essendon
Lol. What an abomination. Next.

16. GWS
The Giants have always been less than the sum of their parts and now it’s up to the highly regarded Adam Kingsley to figure out how to make them play as a team rather than 22 individuals wearing the same jumper.

Hopefully he can give them a spike up the ladder, which will show Leon Cameron up as the below-average coach he was, while further making a mockery of Port and St Kilda hanging onto the same old coach for the same old results.

Most reports have Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper making their way to Victoria, so Kingsley will have a newish midfield upon which to impress his ideas. It will be genuinely exciting to see what a new voice can do with this group.

Josh Kelly of the Giants looks dejected

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

17. West Coast
There’s no doubt the Eagles escaped notice this year. Different storylines throughout the year always held more attention, be it coach sackings at GWS and North, the rise of Carlton and Collingwood, the winning streaks of Melbourne and Geelong, the quality of some of the football, the Adelaide preseason camp, and latterly the turmoil at Essendon.

West Coast were truly awful in the first half of the season; inexcusably so. Completely non-competitive. It’s hard to see anything but a world of hurt in the near future for them, yet this is a club that never stays down for long.

18. North Melbourne
Alastair Clarkson’s return to coaching is going to be one of the top few stories of the season when we look back on 2022. He inherits a team that has finished in the bottom two for three seasons in a row – if we remove the expansion clubs, this is a distinction last held by Carlton from 2005-07.

Clarkson’s four premierships are well known, but the Hawks weren’t exactly flying at the end of his career there. He’d overseen a list build that was neither here nor there, and a team that was inconsistent and playing without identity.

Whatever happens, the Roos will be the focus of much attention in 2023 and beyond.

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