Don’t get bitter, get better.
It is a timeworn cliche, but one that is back in vogue for Melbourne as they attempt to reverse a worrying run of AFL form that has left them with a 1-3 record.
The Demons have struggled to execute basic skills and have admitted to “beating themselves” within matches because of their failure to turn possession into scores.
Recent poor performances have led to stinging criticism from a succession of past players, coaches and commentators ahead of Saturday night’s meeting with Gold Coast at Giants Stadium.
But Dees coach Simon Goodwin insists that volley of criticism is failing to find its target.
“The players are fine,” he said. “They’re not getting bitter, they just want to get better.
“It’s pretty simple; the noise is the noise. It’s around in the AFL industry and we know what it looks like.”
Former Demons strategist Craig Jennings this week said there were “three clear flaws in Melbourne’s game style” and that the team was easy to coach against.
Goodwin refused to bite back at his former ally during his weekly pre-match press conference.
“People come and go in this industry from various clubs, whether that be players or staff, and when you’re out of the environment you don’t really know what’s going on,” Goodwin said.
“All we are focused on is what we can control internally.
“We understand there’s going to be noise. It’s easy to develop noise whether you’re playing well or playing poorly.
“Right now we’re in a position as a club where at 1-3 the noise has started against us, but we are up for that challenge.”
Melbourne have axed four players for the Suns clash, including highly paid recruit Adam Tomlinson and speedster Jayden Hunt, who has missed only three matches in two seasons.
Harley Bennell, Oscar McDonald, Sam Weideman and Neville Jetta have all been recalled.
In stark contrast to the Demons, Gold Coast have been celebrated for their strong performances and exciting brand of football since the season restart.
A serious shoulder injury to young star Matt Rowell in last week’s defeat to Geelong put the brakes on the bandwagon.
But a long-awaited debut for prized 2018 No.3 draft pick Izak Rankine this week has picked the mood back up.
“It’s an exciting time for our footy club,” coach Stuart Dew said.
“We’ve been waiting a little while and (Rankine) has worked really hard and deserves his chance.”