Christian Petracca's 'embarrassing' confession as AFL star responds to Garry Lyon criticism

Melbourne AFL legend Garry Lyon was among the biggest critics of his beloved club.

Christian Petracca says Sunday's 92-point drubbing by Fremantle might have been the "reality check" his Melbourne side needed after the performance from the Demons was savaged by AFL analysts. Club legend Garry Lyon was among the harshest critics of the Demons, who were outplayed in pretty much every way against the rampant Dockers.

The 22.9 (141) to 7.7 (49) thrashing was Melbourne's third loss in four games, the heaviest defeat under coach Simon Goodwin and saw them tumble out of the AFL's top eight. The Demons had a 68-37 inside 50 count against them as well as 48 lost clearances to 23. They also lost the disposal count by 78, contested footy stats by 42, made 46 less marks and even came out second best in the tackle count against the Dockers.

Pictured left to right, Melbourne Demons star Christian Petracca and AFL great Garry Lyon.
Melbourne Demons star Christian Petracca has hit back after AFL great Garry Lyon's criticism of the club. Pic: Getty

The worrying numbers sparked massive backlash against Melbourne, with Collingwood great Nathan Buckley questioning their fitness and the Demons' top-four credentials. Dual premiership Kangaroos great David King said the Demons had issued that they needed to fix immediately and pointed to their alarming contested possession stats as a major cause for concern.

King said Melbourne looked far too casual with ball in hand and it didn't appear to matter to the players that they were getting destroyed against the Dockers. And Melbourne legend Lyon agreed, telling Fox Footy’s On the Couch on Monday night: “I just don’t think they care. They didn’t care enough on the weekend and that’s a damning assessment. They didn’t care for each other."

Petracca strongly refuted that suggestion from Lyon but did admit that he was "embarrassed" to see his side so thoroughly outplayed by the Dockers. “The contest and aerial stuff is something we pride ourselves on and being out there I felt embarrassed, to be honest, the way we were playing,” Petracca said on AFL 360.


“But in terms of saying ‘it doesn’t mean enough to us’, that’s not the case at all. We’ve got a connected group that’s willing to learn and develop and get better. A lot of this stuff is simple fundamentals that are putting ourselves under pressure and opening up the game and putting more stress on us on defence. These are things that are quite easy to control with our ball movement.

“They’re just missing simple handballs, I missed a few kicks bombing it in there, missed a few handballs, I wasn’t tackling hard enough. So there’s things in my game I can control.” King floated the idea that Petracca could become a full-time forward after insisting Goodwin's current game plan was simply not working for the Demons.

Seen here, Christian Petracca during Melbourne's thrashing by Fremantle in the AFL.
Christian Petracca is seen here during Melbourne's thrashing by Fremantle in the AFL. Pic: Getty

Petracca said Melbourne identified after their recent AFL finals series failures that their game plan needed to change from one so reliant on the contest. But the 28-year-old concedes they are still trying to work out the best balance for their team and how to get the best out of their attack. “The coaches are trying to adjust the game plan and trying to evolve in different ways and get better in every facet of every game,” he said.

“That is on contest and defence as well. Offence, there’s been a lot of talk over the last couple of years on our ball movement and how slow and boring they are. Maybe we have gone into that a little bit and we’re trying to shift it a bit more and have more fun with the footy.”