Justin Leppitsch is not the right man to take the Brisbane Lions forward and his future as the coach of the Lions needs to be questioned seriously.
He was a great player for the Lions but he looks out of his depth as a coach in the AFL. It is easy to use excuses like he hasn’t always had a full strength team to choose from or he needs better players but he hasn’t been able to work with what he has at his disposal.
The Lions play with fear and confusion. There isn’t a clear gameplan present and the team lacks purpose and direction. Worst of all, a majority of players are placed out of position or they have change roles constantly.
Brisbane has had a habit of turning the ball over by hand and foot, moving the ball sideways or backwards and taking time to make decisions.
Are the Brisbane players as poorly skilled as they are made out to be?
No. Last year some of Brisbane’s smaller midfielders were labelled “The Mosquito Fleet”, which was a nickname also given to Carlton’s midfield in the 1970s. Surely these Lions players haven’t lost their skill in the space of a year and there are other good players on the Brisbane list, not just in midfield.
Tom Rockliff and Dayne Beams are prolific ball-getters. Lewis Taylor, Pearce Hanley and Josh Green are quick and nippy players who can provide some spark. Dayne Zorko and Daniel Rich are talented midfielders who can also go forward and kick goals.
Stefan Martin is as good as any ruckman in the league when he is given the responsibility. Daniel Merrett is great spoiler of the ball, Harris Andrews and Marco Paparone are tall defenders with great mobility and Justin Clarke has shown that he is better at being a running defender than playing as an old-school key defender.
Brisbane does lack great tall forwards but if Daniel McStay could stay in the forward 50 and not drop back, he could develop better. Matthew Leuenberger lacks the courage to play on the ball but if “Leuey” modelled himself of Jarryd Roughead or past players like Simon Madden or Paul Salmon, he could be a decent forward.
So what are the issues?
This team lacks mental strength, structure, and a playing philosophy, which is different to a gameplan.
The Lions players must not be limited to playing in a role or restricted to a system. They need to have the confidence to make their own decisions and be confident to take the game on. A player can follow a gameplan to a tee but he needs to be more daring at times.
Brisbane is clearly not the power it was in the early 2000s but it does not mean that the current list should be a bunch of quitters or lack determination.
These players are playing at the elite level and they should have an inferiority complex regardless of who they play against. If they are playing with fear and they aren’t willing to make changes, these players should play at a lower level.
Leppitsch’s Brisbane side lacks structure and he has too many players out of place. Hardly anyone players one-on-one footy at the AFL level these days so people should not expect to see a team with six defenders, three midfielders, three on-ballers and six forwards. Players should still play in roles that suit their characteristics though.
Teams need to look at the style of football or the philosophy that they want to implement. Brisbane lacks a clear gameplan or style. What the Lions usually do is move the ball slowly and they chip the football along the wings. If not, the Lions constantly handball through the midfield before turning the ball over.
The Lions need to be quicker in their decision making or be more instinctive. Instead of constantly moving the ball down the wings lethargically, they need to move the ball quickly down the corridor and rely on kicking as opposed to handballing.
Traditionally teams would kick the ball long into a contest and perhaps that won’t work too often in the modern game but it is still a useful concept. Even if a player can’t kick to a contest, he should kick it into a space in which a teammate can run into.
Under Leppitsch, there have been very little signs of improvement. Regardless of what Brisbane does in the trade period and in pre-season, “Leppa” doesn’t look like the man to take the Lions forward. Having better players won’t be enough to make him a successful coach.
He needs to resign or the board need to give him the sack.