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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Lacy’s Learnings: Where will Fremantle’s improvement come from?

Fremantle fans could be forgiven for thinking they have been living out Groundhog Day in recent years.
The Dockers posted their eighth win of 2018 in their 29-point result against a struggling Carlton at Optus Stadium last weekend, but they remained stuck in 13th — where they have been for 12 of the 21 rounds this season and all but one since round 10.
And that’s where they’ll finish unless the Western Bulldogs (one win and percentage behind) can climb above them in the final two rounds of the season.
The Dockers famously went from the minor premiership in 2015 to 16th with just four wins in 2016.
Last year they managed eight wins, a milestone they matched last weekend against the Blues.
With games to come against Geelong and Collingwood to round out the season, it’s hard to see them doing any better than that in 2018.
So it’s worth asking the question: has progress been made?
I put that very question to coach Ross Lyon on Sunday after the win. His answer was yes, because they are younger again this season and, for the most part, their wins have been more solid this year.
It’s true the club has unveiled eight new faces. And they have seen enough of young key forward Hugh Dixon to extend his stay without him playing a game at the highest level.
Luke Ryan, Brennan Cox and Sean Darcy have continued to develop, but top 2016 draftee Griffin Logue has been crippled by injury in his second season.
Ed Langdon has taken his game to another level, Connor Blakely is a very good player, while Alex Pearce has made a positive return from leg injuries and Nathan Wilson has been a more than handy pick up. Matt Taberner looked to have taken strides before he was cut down with a foot problem.
Lachie Neale and David Mundy have led brilliantly, while Nat Fyfe was back to his Brownlow best before suspension and injury got in the way. The Hill brothers have had years to forget largely thanks to injuries.
Lee Spurr, Michael Johnson and Danyle Pearce are on their way out. There are question marks over plenty more.
Will supporters be happy with eight wins again in 2019? If not, where is the improvement coming from, other than the gradual gains as the kids get better?
They missed out on Jeremy McGovern. As it stands, they will enter the draft at pick No.6 and not have another selection until 78.
One suspects more patience will be required.

Fremantle’s progression in 2018

After round one: 17th
Round two: 14th
Round three: 10th
Round four: 13th
Round five: 11th
Round six: 11th
Round seven: 12th
Round eight: 12th
Round nine: 12th
Round 10: 13th
Round 11: 13th
Round 12: 13th
Round 13: 12th
Round 14: 13th
Round 15: 13th
Round 16: 13th
Round 17: 13th
Round 18: 13th
Round 19: 13th
Round 20: 13th
Round 21: 13th

Fremantle’s progression in 2017

After round one: 17th
Round two: 18th
Round three: 15th
Round four: 12th
Round five: 9th
Round six: 11th
Round seven: 9th
Round eight: 9th
Round nine: 5th
Round 10: 7th
Round 11: 8th
Round 12: 10th
Round 13: 11th
Round 14: 12th
Round 15: 14th
Round 16: 12th
Round 17: 12th
Round 18: 14th
Round 19: 14th
Round 20: 14th
Round 21: 14th
Round 22: 14th
Round 23: 14th

Fremantle’s progression in 2016

After round one: 18th
Round two: 17th
Round three: 16th
Round four: 17th
Round five: 18th
Round six: 18th
Round seven: 18th
Round eight: 18th
Round nine: 18th
Round 10: 18th
Round 11: 16th
Round 12: 16th
Round 13: 15th
Round 14: 15th
Round 15: 16th
Round 16: 16th
Round 17: 16th
Round 18: 16th
Round 19: 16th
Round 20: 16th
Round 21: 16th
Round 22: 16th
Round 23: 16th