2021 was a massive failure for a Carlton side that was destined for finals. Will a new coach and another strong trade period have the Blues primed to break their finals drought?
Jack Tobin will be previewing EVERY team in the lead up to the 2022 season, while PuntingInDanger and his crew will be back this year to give their betting tips on every game. Be sure to head to the AFL Tips page for regular updates!
Carlton Blues Season Preview
In: Adam Cerra (Fremantle), George Hewett (Sydney), Lewis Young (Western Bulldogs), Jesse Motlop (Pick 27)
Out: Sam Petrevski-Seton (West Coast)
Carlton attacked the trade period for the second year in the row, parting with its first round selection for Adam Cerra, while also picking up George Hewett and Lewis Young, with Young’s acquisition becoming even more important after Liam Jones’ retirement. Michael Voss takes over as senior coach, inheriting a talented list but will need to implement a strong defensive game plan if the Blues are to fulfil their potential.
Carlton were the 2nd worst defence in the AFL last season conceding 89 points per game, giving up nine 100+ point scores. With Carlton’s best one-on-one defender in Liam Jones gone, Voss will need to make some major changes to the way Carlton defend. Lewis Young and Mitch McGovern will partner Jacob Weitering in a new look defence that will be a major part in determining whether or not the Blues will feature in September.
A big bonus for Carlton is their fixture, which is the easiest in the AFL. The Blues 13th place in 2021 means they’re bracketed with the bottom six teams in the competition, meaning they play five teams from the bottom ten in 2021 twice. The Blues play Adelaide Crows, Collingwood, Fremantle, GWS Giants and Richmond twice - the bottom four teams of 2021, and only one finalist, it’s a massive win for Carlton.
Carlton will need their midfield brigade to help support Sam Walsh, who was a one man band in 2021. Walsh averaged 29 disposals per game, but got next to no support from his fellow midfielders in Patrick Cripps and Zac Williams, who had near career worst seasons. Adam Cerra and George Hewett’s arrival means Williams will likely move to half back, and will provide the Blues midfield with two way running they desperately need.
Breakout Player: Lachie Fogarty
Fogarty joined the Blues from Geelong at the end of 2020 and had a solid first season averaging 15 disposals per game across half forward. With Eddie Betts and Marc Murphy both gone, Carlton has a big hole to fill in their small forwards stocks and Fogarty is the man to fill that role. With 39 games under his belt heading into his fifth season, Fogarty is primed to take his game to the next level. He’s shown his capability to win the ball, and if he can turn that into creating more shots at goal he is going to be a major weapon this season.
What Do The Blues Need To Do This Season?
Carlton need their role players to stand up in 2022. With Walsh, Weitering and McKay, Carlton has All-Australian quality players in all three parts of the ground. With that sort of spine, the Blues simply shouldn’t be finishing 13th. Part of that was the players not buying into the game plan, but a large part of it was David Teague consistently playing players out of position, rather than picking players who are suited to specific roles.
Liam Stocker played back pocket despite being a first round pick as a player Carlton rated as the best midfield in his draft, Will Setterfield played a mixture of half forward and wing despite being recruited as an inside mid. Zac Williams was played as an inside midfielder despite only playing one game there in his career before joining Carlton. If Michael Voss can get his lesser lights to play a role and buy into their system, the Blues will see vast improvement from within.
It’s finals or bust for the Blues this season, who were one of the major disappointments of 2021. There’s plenty of talent on the list, and it’s hard to see the likes of Cripps, Martin and Williams struggling as badly as they did last year. Although there will be question marks over their defence, Michael Voss will have a defensive system that will be vastly better than the way the Blues defended under David Teague. The difficulty of the fixture means there is absolutely no excuse for Carlton to not make their first finals appearance since 2013.