At what point do we stop reflecting on the holiday Monday massacre?
That question kept turning over in my mind after a number of false starts writing this column.
It’s been a hard loss to casually put in the rear view mirror. Why?
Forget that the defeat came against a bottom of the table team. That masks the problem. The Eels were going to turn up with the same attitude against most teams on Monday and the result could have been uglier.
Here are the facts, and they’re quite straight forward.
1. The Eels have the strengths and the processes to secure the victories that literally no other contender can come close to – and it’s exemplified by beating or threatening both the Storm and the Panthers in every contest over the past two seasons.
2. The playing group has strayed from those processes, and those game plans, against most of the other teams.
Why they stray is more complex.
It’s been suggested to me that there is a lack of Intensity DNA in the team.
That could be a fair call.
In far too many of the matches this season there has been a distinct lack of intensity even in the wins. Last year, critics of BA’s methodology said that playing with the intensity he required ultimately led to late season fades.
I’ve never accepted that logic. I’d argue that the Panthers and the Storm have few problems in “bringing it on” virtually every week.
There can be no doubt that the team isn’t executing the game plan, and though messages are no doubt being sent from the sideline, very little changes.
Is this an effort problem, or an attitudinal issue? Perhaps it’s a reflection of the on-field leadership?
For mine it’s difficult to distinguish because the outcome is a vicious circle which inevitably means that the Eels have to exert more effort, not less, in trying to stop an opposition that’s on the front foot.
Whatever the root problem, the answer needs to be found because future consequences await.
Let me return to the two benchmark teams – Penrith and Melbourne.
In most weeks, they’ve won the contest before a ball is kicked in anger. Opposition teams know that they have to execute close to perfection to get the win. Some challengers may lift in attempting to prove themselves against these gold standard sides, but the psychological intimidation is evident as soon as the pressure is applied.
Allowing every team to be in the contest, or to drop matches to cellar dwellers, doesn’t create any fear factor. Each club would rate their chances this year against Parra.
Bizarrely, Parra don’t seem to be intimidated by Melbourne or Penrith. Go figure!
From an Eels supporter perspective, there is greater uncertainty about what might unfold in any given week. The faith diminishes.
In no way am I writing off the Eels prospects in season 2022, but via their inconsistent performances, the players have unquestionably made their task harder.
Every opponent will lift, not to prove themselves against the Eels but because they enter the contest with a positive mindset, believing that they can secure the win.
However, the good news is that the answer is easy to find.
It’s a cliche, but it is a simple case of trusting what are simple processes. Play Parra footy. Uncompromising physical contests, played with patience in the opposition half.
Who wants it more?
It’s who wants to do what’s needed to get the win.
Just do it.