Neeld sure he can mend a down club

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 04 November 2012 | 14.43

Melbourne Football coach Mark Neeld is taking steps towards rebuilding the Demons. Picture: Andrew Henshaw Source: Herald Sun

Melbourne coach Mark Neeld has high hopes for former Port Adelaide star David Rodan and believes his finals experience will benefit the club. Picture: Andrew Henshaw Source: Herald Sun

DAVID Rodan is a short man with a long job description at his new employer, Melbourne.

The Demons want him to win contested ball, break the lines, add some pizzazz . . . and in his downtime become a father figure.

Melbourne has been criticised in some quarters for a scatter-gun recruiting approach, but coach Mark Neeld is adamant Rodan and others were targeted for a reason.

"One of David's roles will be to take Jack Viney under his wing and give him a little bit of support on and off the field," Neeld said.

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Viney, Melbourne's prime father-son pick, will be carefully managed and not rushed, with Neeld delivering more than a passing hint that the club got it wrong with another glamour pick, Jack Watts, four years ago.

"We want to do it correctly. We don't want unrealistic expectations," Neeld said.

"The role David will play with Jack we see as really important.

"There's a couple of examples at our club where there's been some unrealistic expectations on some guys and they're still battling through it now four years into their career."

Rodan, offloaded by Port Adelaide, is often derided for being a human highlights reel without a team-first mindset, but Neeld is adamant he will be an invaluable addition to a developing list.

"Why we were keen on someone like a Rodan is his experience. He'll be our most experienced player . . . he's played in finals . . . a Grand Final," Neeld said.

"When we sat down and chatted with David we acknowledged there are still certain things in his game that he needs to improve.

"We made it very clear these are the reasons we want you . . . experience, very good in contested ball, very good in clearances and you've got that dynamic speed that simply we don't have.

"There's very few perfect players, I get all that. It is his third AFL club, we're across that. We just need to make sure we're getting the balance right."

Like Rodan, other high-profile Demons newcomers Chris Dawes and Shannon Byrnes have played finals and Grand Finals. It was a key criteria when the club went hunting.

"I was really keen to get some players in who had been in really good footy clubs and had played finals or Grand Finals," Neeld said.

"There is a lot of internal leadership that can be built within a group.

"I've had finals and Grand Final experience in coaching teams. I can tell them. Leigh Brown, Dave Misson and Neil Craig the same thing . . . but it is more powerful if it comes internally from the players."

A year after recruiting Mitch Clark to be the deep forward, Dawes will be the man to play closer to goal this season, allowing Clark to roam further up the ground and help out in the ruck.

"The role we want Dawesy to play is the stay-at-home forward. I was involved with Dawesy at Collingwood when he played that role really well.

"Mitch (Clark) has got great agility and between he and Cam Pederson they will share the second ruck role. It allows Mitch to get on his bike a bit more and we're keen for that."

Neeld indicated it would have been irresponsible of the club not to chase Dawes.

"You've got a 24-year-old key position player on the move . . . the right thing for our footy club to do was go and ask the question," Neeld said.

"We're rapt. He is a minimum 100-game key position player for us."

Bringing in so many recycled players has led to questions about Neeld looking for a quick fix - a respectable seven to eight wins next year to escape the heat.

But he said self-preservation was never a factor.

"I maintain strongly that the role of a senior coach is every decision you make needs to be for the betterment of the footy club, otherwise you've got the wrong role," Neeld said.

"All the decisions we make are for three, five, 10 years down the track. I'm really big on that. I see that as my role."

Neeld said nobody should be shocked at the turnover, saying it would become more common with free agency and a tendency to more closely mirror player movement in US sports.

"In my experience (at clubs), 10 to 12 list turnovers is normal," Neeld said.

"What I can gather from the reaction of the Melbourne supporters is that's not the norm here.

"I'm really clear on the type of footy we want to play, we're really clear on the type of training we want to see and we're really clear on the type of people we want to build a culture we think will take the club forward. All the decisions we made were based around that."

Matthew Bate and Ricky Petterd were delisted, Brent Moloney and Jared Rivers walked under free agency and Cale Morton left in a fire-sale trade to West Coast.

Neeld was typically pragmatic about the exits of Moloney to Brisbane and Rivers to Geelong.

"Brent's decided with what he wants to achieve and the way he goes about it, it is best suited elsewhere. That's OK," Neeld said.

Asked if his relationship with Moloney became strained, Neeld said the pair continued to talk.

"We had regular conversations. No doubt, he must have been thinking 'Hang on a minute, this is not the way it's supposed to pan out'," Neeld said.

"Brent didn't have -- and I hope this is not seen as dumping on Brent -- he didn't have a great year."

The departure of Rivers was about the opportunity to play finals.

"He believed this was going to be his last contract, and he wanted to, if he could, ensure himself that he could play finals immediately," Neeld said.

"That's one of the reasons free agency was pushed so hard by the AFL Players' Association. That's OK."

Morton was given every opportunity, but did not fit the Neeld mould and "the Eagles offered him the opportunity to move back to Perth and continue playing footy there".

Neeld said it was an era of "more mature conversations" between players and coaches and out of all the talk it was clear Melbourne was not the best fit for Morton right now.

Asked if the prodigiously talented but frustrating Morton had the ability to bite the Dees on the backside, Neeld said: "I don't look at it like that. Everyone hopes he does do well."

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