THE order for a truckload of manure has been made and microwaves around the country are on standby.

The Richmond Football Club have started their season like Mark Webber does a Grand Prix and the outlook ahead suggests many a membership card will be experiencing two to three minutes on High very, very soon.

The perennial “five year plan after five year plan” merchants are the sixth season into the Damien Hardwick era and one gets the sense they are over the hump yet again and another woeful year for the Yellow and Black is definitely appearing in the tea leaves.

Five rounds in, with a two and three record, all doesn’t seem lost for the Richmond Football Club. But dig a little deeper and you can understand why a good couple tonnes of manure might end up at the front door at Punt Road yet again.

Expected wins over Brisbane and Carlton are nothing to be judged by. Brisbane would struggle to defeat their own NEAFL side at the moment, and Mick Malthouse’s milestone week aside the world has come crashing down on the pitiful Blues.

Sorry champ, you are as confused as a Sydneysider in Melbourne, having to make a hook turn.

It’s the losses that really concern.

Sure, Geelong has not lost to Richmond since 2006, and are still a quality side. However the Cats were ripe for the picking, a lot of their veteran stars are either out of the side or out of form, and if there was ever a chance for Richmond to take the step up and overtake a Geelong on the slide, it was a sunny Saturday afternoon at the MCG.

On current form, a loss to the Western Bulldogs isn’t as bad as first thought; the Dogs are on the rise and playing ripping footy. But therein lies the problem, the 4-1 Bullies have seemingly overtaken the Tigers without any notice whatsoever.

If the Dogs have gone past Richmond, and the likes of Adelaide, Collingwood and the Greater Western Sydney Giants are all improvers too, not to mention the consistent threat of the other seven finalists from last year, where does that leave the Tigers?

Finally we had the loss to Melbourne. The eloquent Damien Hardwick described the performance as “insipid” and “not tough enough”.

Against Melbourne? Yes, the messiah Paul Roos appears to have finally got the Dees’ compass to point north, but for far too long if you were to actually lose to Melbourne it was the equivalent of losing a swimming race to Eric Moussambani.

However, the most optimistic Tigers barracker will offer that a win this weekend and the ledger would be squared, the season is far from lost. Sorry champ, you are as confused as a Sydneysider in Melbourne, having to make a hook turn.

This week we see Richmond heading to Hobart for an away fixture with North Melbourne. It will be very cold and very chilly, much like the Tigers’ chance of winning.

They then have four more games up until a bye: the resurgent Collingwood, Port Adelaide in Adelaide, Essendon for the Dreamtime fixture, and Fremantle in Perth.

The way both teams are playing the Maggies would be warm favourites at least; the game against the Power will bring back haunting memories of the equivalent match-up in September last year; the Dons, while showing inconsistency, look a top-eight side again this year; Freo at Subiaco, dare we need say anymore?

Two wins to the bye is nowhere near the mark of a finals-worthy side. That would be one less win to the equivalent stage last year and it took a Houdini-like effort to pull a finals appearance out by season’s end. Richmond is nowhere near good enough to play that trick again this year.

So where does that leave those oh so strong, and oh so bold? Not flash, not flash at all.

On pure talent alone, taking age profile into consideration, one could argue that there are at least a dozen better lists in the AFL. Every single team above Richmond on the ladder currently certainly has a better playing roster; North Melbourne, Melbourne and Gold Coast while below them at the moment have an edge on the Tigers for overall talent as well.

So surely we’re not at the stage where yet ‘another’ five year plan needs to begin? Off-field they are motoring nicely, they will be the third club to crack 70,000 members behind the juggernaut in Collingwood and the high-flying Hawthorn, sponsors in surplus and facilities top notch.

But despite their greatest efforts and with all the time in the world, they still persist in not getting the on-field anywhere near right.

Club chief executive Brendon Gale aids to the woes with, “when we experience injuries we struggle more than most because of our lack of depth.

“That’s an explanation, not an excuse, that’s the way it is.”

So their fixture looks paralysing, the side gives performances described by the coach as insipid, they have depth described by the CEO as lacking, and their list appears to have more worries than a Joe Hockey budget.

There’s very little chance of another four points being secured by the bye. Oh dear. The aroma of another wasted year in yellow and black is really starting to stench.

Microwaves at the ready…


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