Sport AFL Worsfold, Bolton should be wary of rumours
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Worsfold, Bolton should be wary of rumours

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As a coach, sometimes you can’t be successful. No matter what you do.

That’s why Essendon’s John Worsfold and Carlton’s Brendon Bolton have the two hardest tasks in the AFL.

I’ve got enormous respect for them both, but geez, it’s going to be a tough job.

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Both coaches need to try and stay positive with everyone around them, no matter how tough it gets in 2016, and they need a simple strategy on game day.

I think some younger coaches make the mistake of trying to cram too much in and make pre-season complicated.

Players are under enormous pressure and don’t remember 10 things when they’re running for the ball.

I had a similar experience to what John will have this year when I was at Carlton. They lost all their draft picks and were fined.

When I coached Carlton, everyone was positive for a while but once you start losing games, Chinese whispers creep in.

Fractures and disunity can easily start and then, as a coach, you’ve got no hope in the world.

Pagan (L) led North to two pre-season premierships. Photo: Getty
Pagan (L) led North Melbourne to two pre-season premierships. Photo: Getty

I just hope that the people running Essendon and the Blues stick with the coaches and understand the tough situations they are in – and how long it will take to get them back to regular wins.

The pre-season games this year have been like dancing with your sister.

You can’t take much notice of what’s happened. I don’t know if some of the coaches did themselves a disservice by not taking the games seriously.

You can’t manufacture things and form is very fickle. It doesn’t turn on and off like a light switch.

You want good, solid hit-outs in pre-season.

When I was at North Melbourne, we always took the competition seriously and I thought that playing in the pre-season grand final was worth 10 senior games in terms of experience.

Don Pyke will make his AFL coaching debut when Adelaide play North Melbourne on Saturday – a game I’m looking forward to.

I think Don will do really well at the Crows – I’m a fan of him.

It’s funny how a lot of people have written Fremantle off. They are my tip for the flag.

The AFL is made up of two coaches – good coaches who understand strategy and football, and elite coaches who really understand people.

The elite ones are the ones who are successful and Ross Lyon is an elite coach.

Ross Lyon is attempting to win his first flag with Fremantle. Photo: Getty
Ross Lyon is attempting to win his first flag with Fremantle. Photo: Getty

Last year, the Dockers won 17 home-and-away games.

If they can play a bit faster and re-jig their forward line, I think they’ll win it.

They should get Aaron Sandilands down in the forward 50 for longer periods and have Nathan Fyfe and Harley Bennell resting there.

Put that with Hayden Ballantyne, Michael Walters and Chris Mayne and you can say to Matthew Pavlich he can roam wherever he likes.

At North, we fell away in 1993 and lost preliminary finals in 1994 and 1995 before winning it in 1996.

I remember North president Ron Casey telling me just before the 1996 finals series that if I kept getting the side in the top four, sooner or later, we’d win it.

I think the same will happen with Freo.

My old players Alastair Clarkson, John Longmire and Adam Simpson are all outstanding coaches.

The Hawks will be there or thereabouts but I’ve got reservations on whether their older players can dig deep to win it again.

I’m not sure about Sydney, but if they fell away I wouldn’t be surprised.

West Coast will be right up there, though, and probably be in the top two or three.

Bring on Round 1.

Denis Pagan coached 344 games of AFL football with North Melbourne and Carlton, winning two premierships with the Kangaroos in 1996 and 1999.

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