Heading into the 2015 AFL season, many had Port Adelaide pegged as the team most likely to knock Hawthorn off their perch.
They had just run the Hawks so close in the 2014 preliminary final and boasted an exciting and young team full of potential.
But the Power are about to miss the finals for the second year in row.
So the question needs to be asked: why isn’t Ken Hinkley under more pressure?
Yes, Hinkley accumulated a lot of goodwill in his early days at Port.
He turned a rabble of a football club into a finals contender.
They’ve fallen quickly, though, and Saturday’s home loss to Melbourne was extremely disappointing.
The Power just aren’t fit enough to execute the style they believe they want to play
Put simply, the Power were beaten by a more committed side.
Time and time again, Hinkley has said his team needs to change and adjust their style from what worked two seasons ago.
The reality is that the Power just aren’t fit enough to execute the style they believe they want to play.
And the fact they can’t seem to bring the effort required every week to succeed in the AFL is an indictment on his coaching.
Port Adelaide are also extremely poor by foot.
They’re ranked last for kicking efficiency – something that’s highly counterintuitive to what appears to be a game plan based on precise ball movement.
They haven’t been able to bring quality ball users into the club in recent seasons, either, given the fact they have traded away several first-round picks.
The arrivals of Jared Polec, Patrick Ryder and Charlie Dixon in consecutive seasons has seen the Power gamble on their list.
And the gamble has backfired.
As a result, they have a massive talent gap, where they struggle for a “middle group” of players who are consistent every week.
Instead, the club’s form fluctuates wildly.
And players like Jimmy Toumpas – who is yet to prove he can cut it at AFL level – are relied on.
The leadership at the club also needs to be questioned.
Travis Boak, Brad Ebert and Hamish Hartlett have had poor years by their standards.
Only Ollie Wines has been consistent in the Power’s midfield this season and even his deficiencies seem to have been exposed this year.
Chad Wingard is another who hasn’t hit the heights he would have liked, even though the forward has kicked 38 goals.
For four of Port’s best players to have disappointing years, well, it says it all.
It indicates that something is amiss at the club.
Boak, in particular, has been extremely disappointing and well down on his usual lofty standards.
Perhaps Port’s drop off is down to their changes in personnel in the coaching department.
Alan Richardson left Port – where he was the director of coaching – at the end of the 2013 season to take charge at St Kilda.
Richardson now has the Saints playing the same ballistic and high-pressure style that the Power were famed for during their rise.
His role was taken on by Phil Walsh in 2014, who continued the progression of Port’s midfield group.
Walsh left to Adelaide in 2015 – and before his tragic passing – had the Crows on track for success.
Hinkley is missing quality coaches like Richardson and Walsh, now, and Port should look to their rivals for inspiration.
The Crows cut their losses with Brenton Sanderson despite early success and now look destined for success.
It’s time Port Adelaide do the same.
This article was first published on The New Daily. Costa Nomikoudis also writes for footyprophet.com – football and fantasy analysis unravelled.
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