Melbourne great Garry Lyon has labelled the Demons' historic finals flop a "failed season" after their second-consecutive straight-sets exit. Simon Goodwin's side became the first team under the current finals system to be eliminated with two-straight losses in back-to-back seasons.
The Demons were left to rue a number of missed opportunities in their 11.7 (73) to 9.17 (71) loss to Carlton on Friday night, which followed a seven-point loss to Collingwood in last week's qualifying final. Melbourne are now 0-4 in finals games since their drought-breaking premiership triumph in 2021, and all four losses have come at the MCG.
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After finishing second on the ladder in 2022, they were dumped out of the finals with back-to-back losses against Sydney and Brisbane. In 2023 they finished fourth before going down to Collingwood and Carlton.
“Any way you look at it it’s a failed season, which is a bitter pill to swallow," Lyon said on Fox Footy after the game, declaring Goodwin would be “absolutely gutted.” He added: “They’ve been in the top four for something like 58 of 62 weeks and they’ve got one premiership to show for it and they’ve lost their last four finals. This would be heartbreaking for him.”
Collingwood great Nathan Buckley added: “One of the difficult things about such a close loss like that is that every decision you’ve made will be scrutinised and it will be the wrong decision. Then every decision Carlton and ‘Vossy’ (coach Michael Voss) have made will be scrutinised and they’ll be the right decision. It’s the reality of a close loss like that and a season that hasn’t come to the fruition many thought it might.”
The Dees kicked 16 goals and 28 behinds in their two finals losses this year, while their opponents were 20.13. “It followed a similar pattern. Execution in the front half, tonight was as much about the inaccuracy in front of goal. That is their biggest concern,” Jonathan Brown said. “Obviously personnel and all those sorts of things, we know that, but if they can just sort out that front half (they’ll be better).”
Melbourne's woeful kicking comes back to bite them
Goodwin lamented his side's inability to convert their chances after kicking 17 behinds on Friday night. "We got enough shots to win the game and we just didn't kick our goals," he said.
"In the end, it was inefficiency with the ball that cost us. When you lose finals and your season finishes, there's certainly an emptiness about the group and there's adversity that we'll have to work through.
“When you set yourself up (with) an opportunity to perform strongly in finals and you lose twice in straight sets, there’s going to be criticism out there. But as a footy club, we know we’ve got a list that’s building, and we’re going to continue to add to that … but it just doesn’t happen, it’s hard to do, and a lot has to go right. We certainly won’t be looking backwards. Once we step into next year we’ll be looking forward to the future about what’s possible.”
Goodwin said season-ending injuries to Harrison Petty and Jake Melksham, as well as a costly suspension for Jacob van Rooyen, didn't help. “Clearly our personnel was a struggle late in the year, a lot happened late in the year for us in terms of Petty, Melksham and van Rooyen going out this week,” he said.
“We’ve had some challenges in front of the ball and we didn’t have a lot to select from in that space, so that was a challenge. But we had opportunities with the ball … and we didn’t take them.”
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