Belief is back at Melbourne and finals on the menu after a rocky start to the season, and a horrid 2019, threatened to steer coach Simon Goodwin’s ship off course.
A win of “maturity” against top-four contender St Kilda last week was more affirmation the Demons 2018 push to a preliminary final was the precursor to success fans were hoping for.
After an unsteady start to 2020 Melbourne has reeled off four wins in five matches and rocketed in to eighth place knowing a win over Sydney on Thursday could separate them from the chasing pack.
Defender Michael Hibberd will miss the match after suffering an ankle sprain, but should return for the following week’s clash with Fremantle, another winnable game in Melbourne’s push towards the post-season.
“We’ve been building momentum, we’ve won four out of the last five and we’re starting to build a game that is more recognisable,” Goodwin said on Wednesday.
“I think on the back of 2019 there was no question that belief was going to be really important for us and to build that throughout the year. That got enhanced by a really challenging star to the season, for a variety of different reasons.
“But the players have been brilliant at just sticking to how we want to perform. you could see from last weekend, it was really important for us to beat a team above us, one that was entrenched in the eight, and that builds belief.
“But it means nothing, until you can continue to put it in week in, week out, that has been our greatest challenge, no matter who we are playing, or where we are playing.”
Goodwin praised the defensive mindset of his players, and their willingness to “win ugly” against the Saints.
There could be more ugly wins as the Demons push towards the end of the home and away season with across four games without the short bye other sides will enjoy.
“We’ve planned for it. We know our season is going to be slightly more compressed than others, we potentially miss out on two or three days of a bye within this compressed period, but there’s not much in it,” Goodwin said.
“We’ve embraced every challenge that has come at us this season in a variety of different ways and this is no different.
“We are going to Cairns to play two games across four days and we’re looking forward to that opportunity.”