It's now or never.
Manly have been on a downward spiral ever since we lined up against the Bunnies in Round 22 and got smashed 23-4. But perhaps the writing was on the wall even before this, as we grounded out 3 wins against the Dragons, Warriors and Broncos. Although they were wins, they seemed to be wins that lacked the spark of the previous few months and were perhaps early signs of things to come.
I canít explain the change in form. Sure Manly have lost Buhrer and Ballin, which escalates the problem, but the signs were not good even before these two went down in Round 25 to Penrith.
But to turn the season around, it must come this week in sudden death football. Perhaps this is what Manly have been waiting for.
He is responsible for the game plan and to motivate these guys. Itís no secret that our forwards are a lot smaller, so we need to devise a plan to combat this. Play an up-tempo game. We canít afford to be taking one of the ruck hit-ups all night. We need to have decoys, tip on plays and some second phase play. These allow the man playing the ball to do so quickly, and then you can have the hooker or an outside back taking a scoot from Dummy half, or spread it wide into space. If a 106 kg prop takes it one-out, gets belted, put on his back, then itís a slow play the ball and hard to recover from that.
In defence we played a compressed line last week, it backfired against the Bunnies with their willingness to spread it to their speed men, but it might work against the Dogs with their outside backs possessing less potency and speed (Lafai though is in red hot form). Although beware the tip on plays from the Dogs.
If our forwards can somehow get on the front foot, then this is the man who needs to put in a 5 star performance to rally the troops. When Manly lose, he has generally has a quiet game and the forwards have been dominated. When we win, he is likely man of the match or close to it.
His message is simple, run Daly run.
No Watmough, no Buhrer, maybe no Ballin, maybe no Hodges. Gone are Gulovao, Kite and Rose.
So what do they do, feel sorry for themselves?
This is Finals footy, you train for 10 months and play for 6 to come down to these moments.
Fire up now and show us that you are the next generation to take Manly into the Finals for years to come.
The keys are Lawrence and Symonds for mine. Lawrence for grunt and Symonds as a threat running off DCE.
Defuse the kicks
If Taufua plays, then I hope he gets peppered all week from kicks and blokes putting him under pressure. Whoever plays on the wing must attack the ball. The penalty for a drop is probably a repeat set. The penalty for letting it go is likely 6 points to the opposition.
Jorge is one of my favorite players. I want to see him in the side but playing with confidence.
Last week the boys looked like they didnít believe. After the first 10 minutes when the Bunnies scored, the heads went down. It was as if they thought they had to score first to win.
The Manly I know never quits. They play for the full 80 minutes and always think they can win.
Sure we came back in the last 20 minutes last week, but the game was gone. We needed to do that from the start.
What do you think are the keys for turning it around?