Bombers coach takes heat off Lloyd - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers coach takes heat off Lloyd

10/06/2008 06:53:13 PM Comments (0)

Essendon coach Matthew Knights has urged the AFL club's fans to lower their expectations of captain Matthew Lloyd, saying his days of big goal hauls are behind him.

The three-time Coleman Medallist had averaged close to four goals per game over his career before this year, including more than 100 goals in the 2000 and 2001 seasons, when the Bombers were at their best.

But the 30-year-old has been the target of plenty of critics this season, having failed to contribute more than 26 majors in 10 games in a young, struggling side.

While conceding the skipper was not in top form, Knights said the changing nature of the game and Lloyd's role in the team meant it was unrealistic to expect a much bigger return.

"You can't expect Matthew Lloyd just to come out and kick bags of six, seven and eight any more, I don't think it's realistic to have those expectations," Knights said.

"I certainly don't have those expectations on Matthew as a player.

"I'm looking for him to do the basics very well, to contribute, to set up a few goals, kick a couple himself and help the younger players develop - (Jay) Neagle and (Scott) Gumbleton.

"So I'm not putting a lot of pressure on Matthew to kick bags of goals.

"I don't think that happens in the modern game too often unless you wear No.23 and you've got brown and yellow (Hawthorn's Lance Franklin).

"I think the expectations are a little bit high on Matthew."

Knights said he would be content if Lloyd kicked three or four goals if he was at full-forward, or fewer if he was positioned further up the ground.

He said the Bombers' deficiencies elsewhere on the field were limiting Lloyd's opportunities, as were the club's efforts to usher other players into the forward line.

"Obviously we're preparing Gumbleton and Neagle, and (Scott) Lucas and (Adam) McPhee are all sharing air time up there in the forward half, which I think is the best recipe," Knights said.

"Therefore Matthew's not the only target up there, so we're sharing our forward 50 entries around.

"He's got the full support of the coach and the players and the whole club.

"He'll be fine, he's a resilient character and me and him speak on a regular basis, so everything's fine, he'll come back into some decent form."

Knights was excited about the approaching return of 19-year-old Gumbleton, who played his first game of the year for Bendigo in the VFL on Monday, after overcoming hamstring problems.

The coach said the break between games was too short to consider the teenager for Friday night's match against West Coast, but he was likely to play against the Western Bulldogs the following week.

Midfielder Jobe Watson (tendonitis) will return against the Eagles, but Jason Winderlich will miss with a back injury.

Meanwhile, Knights said there were many positives from his first half-season in charge of the club, despite his dissatisfaction at notching just two wins.

He said the progression of youngsters such as David Myers, Tayte Pears, Bachar Houli, Leroy Jetta, Henry Slattery and Kyle Reimers was the most important outcome.

"(I) would have liked to win more games, no doubt, no question, I guess beneath it all (I'm) pleased that we are heading in the right direction as a club and it's all about a tilt at our next premiership," he said.

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