Collingwood midfielder Dale Thomas looks set to sign at arch rival Carlton in the coming days, reuniting him with former Pies’ coach Mick Malthouse. This should have an immediate impact on Carlton’s midfield, with an experienced premiership player bringing some poise to what has seemed to be a fractured midfield. Adding just one player is not going to solve their problems however, and given that significant changes at the Blues are expected, there are plenty more players that the Blues can target.
One of Malthouse’s main issues in taking over at Carlton, was the team was not ideally set up to his gameplan of stoppages alongside the boundaries, working their way up to a big forward. With Dale Thomas packing his bags for Carlton he brings with him the detailed knowledge of Malthouse’s gameplan. This can have a real impact on the rest of the team, with the Carlton team of this year struggling to implement what Malthouse wants. A number of times throughout the year saw the Blues trailing at half time, making Mick throw caution to the wind a play a more risky style through the middle in the second half. Sure, they made the finals, but only on a technicality. Lapses in execution of the gameplan hurt the Blues too much throughout the 2013 season, so bringing Daisy Thomas on board will do wonders to ensuring the talented midfield takes another step forward next year.
Thomas’ versatility is also an added benefit. An injection of size into the forward line, the placing of an accumulator across half-back or an influence at the stoppage, Thomas elevates the Carlton midfield so one of class. Throughout the 2013 season, Malthouse’s decision to play Walker (5.6 per game) and Simpson (3.3) back may have provided Carlton with sensational rebound, however sacrificed his side’s potential forward of the ball. Chris Judd was Carlton’s only player in the league’s top 50 in average clearances. Their 2nd best player in that regard was Brock McLean who averaged just 4 per game, some 0.8 less than Bulldogs ruckman Will Minson.
In 2011, Thomas ranked 18th in the AFL for possessions per game (25.5), and in the top 50 for average Inside 50s, effective disposals (17th) and uncontested disposals (14.7), making him not only a terrific individual player, but the perfect complement to a team boasting the contested prowess of Chris Judd and struggling to provide opponents with an alternate tagging target to skipper Marc Murphy.
Carlton’s recruiting is not done yet however. Their midfield may have been an issue, but there are other gaping holes in the lineup – and now even more with Eddie Betts leaving the club. The delisting of some key Geelong players opens up the door to some more quality signings. James Podsiadly would give the forward line some much needed structure with a tall target Malthouse’s gameplan desperately needs. Given the Carlton forward line was too small for any game style, let alone Malthouse’s some height will be very welcome. Both Podsiadly and Waite have the ability to push up the wing, and with these two alternating roles, neither will have to bare a monstrous workload of a key forward with no support.
The other key forward to consider is Jesse White. A breakout year at the Swans saw him play the entire second half of the season, significantly upping his market value. The Blues could really use him in their forward line, and with age not a factor for White (25yrs old), he would be a great investment for Carlton. Can play up the ground and even provide some size and impact in the midfield. Malthouse loves big players, and adding White could be one of their most impressive pickups of the off season. Given he is leaning towards Collingwood, the Blues would love to steal yet another player from their biggest rivals.
Could Paul Chapman work his way over to Carlton? Really hard to see it happening, especially with the cap room they would be struggling with after signing Thomas. Two delisted players getting on in age will come cheaper however, so don’t discount the hardened triple premiership player running out with what would be shaping up to be an impressive midfield. Rumblings that Mitch Robinson may be on his way out have died off today, but there may be some truth behind it. Replacing Robinson with Chappy would be ideal for Carlton, as you’d get the same intensity with Chappy, but a much better disposal efficiency and consistency throughout four quarters.
In terms of backmen, there wouldn’t be many on Carlton’s radar. Of course the most sought after defender in this year’s free agency/trade period is Heath Shaw. The Collingwood connection with Malthouse is there, but their run out of defence has never been as much of an issue. A lot could depend on what Heath Scotland does in terms of retirement, but either way, Shaw signing at Carlton would be an impressive pickup.
Daisy Thomas is the first signing for the Blues, but they need more. What we do know is that the team that will take the field next year will look significantly different than this years ‘team’. So keep an eye on Carlton in the next eight days. More moves to come.