18 Teams in 18 Days: Collingwood Magpies

2017: 13th (9 wins – 12 losses – 1 draw)

Key Acquisition:

Jaidyn Stephenson ( AFL Draft – Pick #6)

Key Losses

Lachlan Keeffe (to GWS), Jesse White (retirement)

Million Dollar Question

Who are these Magpies? Collingwood have become one of the leagues real enigmas under coach Nathan Buckley, having not played in the finals since an elimination finals defeat to Port Adelaide in 2013. The jury is still out on weather the prodigal son can coach, and despite signing a contract extension this past offseason, 2018 may be a make or break season for Buckley and his Magpies. It’s clear the team is banking on improvement from within due to the almost silent offseason Collingwood endured. There’s no doubt that if the trio of Jamie Elliott, Ben Reid and Daniel Wells can all stay fit and healthy for the duration of the season then the Pies will be much better for it. But history suggests they’re big “ifs”.

Case For

At a glance, this is a strong football side. That makes the continual downward slide under Nathan Buckley all the more perplexing. There may not be a team in the land that can boast an equal to Collingwood’s midfield, both in quality and depth. What Buckley and the coaches must work towards, however, is finding the best 22. There’s a bunch of about a dozen players at Collingwood that could be in or out of the team any given week (players such as Alex Fasolo, Jordan De Goey, Tom Langdon, Jarryd Blair, James Aish, Josh Thomas, Tim Broomhead and Tom Phillips), which makes finding continuity virtually impossible. Targets forward of centre has also been an issue in recent seasons, but healthy and productive seasons from both Elliott and Reid will go a long way to helping that. Collingwood are a much, MUCH better team when those two are in the starting 18. A finals caliber team, in fact.

Case Against

How can we trust them? How can footy fans trust a team that looked so incompetent for a quarter and a half on a Saturday night last season against the Hawks, only to turn things around and look like a completely different side in the second half, rallying from 43 points down to eventually escape with an 18-point victory? How can fans trust a side that then, two months later, throws away a 50 point lead at home, and is forced to settle for a draw in a match they had in the bag in front of their home fans? They have a good enough engine room to compete with anybody on any given day, but those who say games are won and lost in the middle need to watch these Pies play. Some reassurance up either end will make them a must pick for the finals, but at the moment they remain a real head scratcher.

One to Watch

Jaidyn Stephenson is a special talent who is sure to please the Collingwood faithful for a long time. Standing 188cm, Stephenson is an athletic freak who can jump over anybody standing in his way and can outrun most who dare to chase him. Look for him to get a chance early in the season to help provide a spark for Nathan Buckley’s side.

Bold Prediction

Pies fans will be hoping they can repeat Richmond’s miracle premiership feat from last season and go from 13th to Premiers themselves. That’s a lofty prediction, even by Collingwood’s standards. Collingwood will make the finals this year off the back of a resurgent campaign from gun forward Jaime Elliott and midfield dynamo Daniel Wells. If not, Eddie might be coaching the team himself soon enough.

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