Dons coach calls for calm after AFL losses

Essendon assistant coach Guy McKenna has urged calm, putting down the team’s two big pre-season losses to the law of the AFL jungle.

Concerns are growing about the Bombers in the wake of their three NAB Challenge matches, but McKenna said it is not panic stations.

Essendon are a makeshift team after 12 players, including many of their stars, were banned for the season on doping charges.

After beating a below-strength Carlton lineup by 10 goals, the Bombers went down to Geelong by 87 points.

On Sunday, West Coast took them apart in Perth by 105 points.

That prompted commentary that Essendon will be this season’s Fitzroy, who slumped into oblivion 20 years ago with a terrible season.

Essendon great Matthew Lloyd has also speculated that rival teams will rest players against the Bombers.

“We played a grand final side that’s well-drilled, on their home deck, (in) those conditions,” McKenna said of the West Coast loss.

“We’re still putting the jigsaw together, if you know what I mean.

“So let’s not kid ourselves.

“Out of the weekend and even the previous week against Geelong, it’s not panic stations or anything like that.”

McKenna noted that Essendon’s possession count improved against the Eagles, but they simply struggled to move the ball well.

“We’re not playing instinctive football, but you’d expect that from a group that’s been put together over the last four or five weeks.

“Having been there and done that, it takes time.

“It’s not going to happen overnight.”

Referring to the heavy losses to Geelong and West Coast, McKenna said “that’s just the law of the jungle.”

McKenna said he was drawing on his experience as Gold Coast’s foundation coach, when the Suns were thrashed regularly in their early days.

He said it is a matter of Essendon focussing on their good passages of play and making sure those stretches last longer as the team develops.

“It’s pulling out the little bits of gold,” he said.

McKenna added that player morale was fantastic and they are looking forward to the round-one match on the Gold Coast against his old team.

“They understand it’s going to be a long year ahead and they’re rolling up their sleeves and doing the work,” he said.

“As long as they keep turning up with a great attitude and wanting to work and get better, the world’s your oyster.”

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