AFL great Mick Malthouse predicts Fremantle will fall well short of making the finals next year, but Dockers coach Ross Lyon won’t let the sombre assessment sully his canoe ride.
Malthouse says the returns of Nat Fyfe, Harley Bennell, and Aaron Sandilands in 2017 won’t be enough to even get the Dockers back into the finals mix.
But Lyon refused to bite back at the three-time premiership coach, saying everyone is entitled to their opinions.
“He’s climbed the mountain numerous times. He’s got a really informed opinion,” Lyon said on Wednesday.
“But in the end you paddle your own canoe. You’ve got to write your own story.
“You can’t get caught up on other people’s opinions. Certainly all your focus is on the hard work, and the results will follow.”
The Dockers appear set to finish 16th this year after tallying just three wins from the first 15 rounds.
It’s been a shock fall from grace for the 2013 grand finalists, who started this year as one of the premiership favourites.
Malthouse says Fremantle need to recruit someone of the ilk of Melbourne forward Jesse Hogan in order to get back into flag contention.
And he says Lyon needs to stagger the team’s list development over several seasons rather than banking on an instant fix.
Lyon refused to make any bold statements when asked about his team’s chances of making a swift rebound in 2017.
“I don’t make predictions,” Lyon said.
“You can probably go back from when (I started) here – if you can pull out a prediction on finals and where we’re going to finish, I’d be happy to read it, because I don’t think I’ve ever done that.
“I don’t see why I should start doing it now. I don’t believe in it.”
Fremantle will be aiming to bounce back from disappointing losses to Collingwood and Melbourne when they take on premiership fancies Geelong in Perth on Friday night.
Midfielder Michael Barlow is set to return from a fractured finger, while skipper David Mundy is on track to play despite being concussed against the Demons last week.
Barlow’s return is a week earlier than initially expected after he was forced to undergo finger surgery, but Lyon said the 28-year-old was good to go.
“He could have played last week, but it was a bit of a risk. We think there’s no risk at this point,” he said.