THE Western Bulldogs’ inability to evolve has the club lingering outside the top eight, says Essendon great Tim Watson.
And while a plethora of injuries was partly to blame, Watson said the biggest problem came down to the club’s complacency.
“Fundamentally … they’ve got a problem and that’s that they’re still playing the same game they played last year,” Watson told SEN.
“Everyone else has caught them. Everyone else has their handball game up and running.
“But those teams are actually sharper now than the Bulldogs were last year. They haven’t moved on in any way. There’s nothing new or different about the way they’re playing.”
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The Bulldogs slumped to their sixth loss of the season on Sunday, with a relentless Melbourne defeating the reigning premiers by 57 points.
Coach Luke Beveridge suggested the loss was defined by turnovers, with skill not attitude to blame.
But Watson disagreed, saying the Bulldogs had been outhunted, with Melbourne’s fanatical pressure the catalyst for the win.
“Last year when you watched the Bulldogs, even if they got beat, you would rarely say a side was more aggressive around the contest than them or outworked them around the contest,” Watson said.
“You can say that from almost every game this year, that they’ve been outworked and that sides have been harder and tougher than they have. They benchmarked that last year.
“Maybe it’s too hard to come up a year after that when you play that type of football when you’ve got other teams challenging you the way other teams are right now.”
Luke Beveridge. Photo: George Salpigtidis Source:News Corp Australia
While the Bulldogs have continued to deny they’re suffering from a premiership hangover, the evidence continues to stack up against them.
Matthew Boyd became the 10th premiership player to be axed this season, as Beveridge searches for ways to rattle his playing group out of their funk.
Garry Lyon echoed Watson’s sentiments when it came to the Bulldogs’ complacency, saying it was “hard to find a player who had improved”.
“I reckon the hunger has gone,” he said.
“They weren’t the best or the most talented team, but they were the most desperate and hardest, and when you’ve eaten well then perhaps you aren’t as desperate.”
In particular, Lyon singled out Tom Boyd, one of the Bulldogs’ premiership heroes, for an underwhelming first half of the season.
“Let’s look at Tom at some stage because Tom had an unbelievable finals series,” Lyon said.
“But he’s got no presence out on the ground at the moment, has he?”
The Western Bulldogs face North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, where they will be without Lin Jong, who has a suspected ACL injury.