'It's a disaster': AFL great's brutal swipe at 'selfish' Bombers

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AFL great Nick Riewoldt says something has to change at Essendon if the club hopes to arrest its current form slump. Pic: Getty/Fox Sports
AFL great Nick Riewoldt says something has to change at Essendon if the club hopes to arrest its current form slump. Pic: Getty/Fox Sports

AFL great Nick Riewoldt has taken Essendon's players and coach to task over the footy team's persistent struggles in 2022.

Bombers coach Ben Rutten admitted he was left frustrated by the side's 32-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs that left Essendon's season on the brink of collapse.

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After being heavily criticised for their defensive work rate in recent weeks, the Bombers were sliced apart far too easily and conceded their third triple-figure score of the year, as the Dogs ran riot in the 16.7 (103) to 10.11 (71) win.

The loss leaves the Bombers third-last on the ladder after going 1-6 to start the season, with Ratten highlighting "basic fundamental errors" that his players keep making.

Perhaps one of the most damning stats to come out of the loss against the Dogs was the fact Essendon won the disposal count 393-380, yet only went inside 50 on 39 occasions, compared to 66 times for the Bulldogs.

Bombers Zach Merrett and Darcy Parish contributed just six inside 50s despite getting their hands on plenty of footy, with the Bombers guilty of handballing backwards on far too many occasions.

Speaking on Fox Footy’s On The Couch on Monday night, Riewoldt said it seemed like Essendon's players were more worried about pumping up their stats, and insisted the coach needed to do something to fix the situation.

“Clearly there’s a disconnect at the moment on the back of the system and spirit,” Riewoldt said.

“Right now, it’s a disaster... I just think they’re an average team.

“It looks like they have a stat-happy, selfish midfield that want to get lots of the footy.

“These blokes are just more concerned about pumping their stats up.

“It has to come back to the coach — because either the players aren’t adhering to the gamestyle, in which case hold them accountable, or that is the gamestyle, and it’s broken.”

Seen here, Essendon coach Ben Rutten looks on during a game in the 2022 AFL season.
Essendon coach Ben Rutten is under the pump after his side's awful start to the 2022 season. Pic: Getty

Essendon list manager also in firing line

Bombers' list manager Adrian Dodoro - the man responsible for bringing high-profile stars Devon Smith, Jake Stringer and Dylan Shiel to the club - has also come in for criticism over trades that sports broadcaster Craig Hutchison says "have't worked".

“Shiel’s three years into seven years and you paid a lot for it, you couldn’t put that down as even remotely a success," Hutchison said on Channel 9’s Footy Classified.

“That has all happened on the same recruiting manager’s watch. This might sound unfair, but if you think of a coach and list manager as the two most important jobs in footy, it’s hard to imagine a senior coach surviving that run.

“So he’s either being let down badly by coaches and by game structure, or they’ve got to make a change.

“He’s highly respected by the other teams and in football circles and he’s a fantastic person, but if you put that resume up in isolation they’re going to have to do something to change things there.

“That can’t continue. He would probably argue I’m sure that he’s been let down by coaches along the way because it’s not just one thing, but it just can’t continue.”

Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes agreed with Hutchison's assessment, ironically referring to Dodoro's role as "the best job to have in football".

“You get to have the longest (period) and no one works out whether you’ve passed or failed for a long period of time," Cornes said.

“I think when you make big moves and you give seven-year contracts to players that are now playing as a sub and are dropped, then the pressure rightly comes on you.”

with AAP

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