Fremantle coach Ross Lyon admits next year can’t come quick enough after watching his side flop in Matthew Pavlich’s 350-game AFL milestone.
Lyon suffered the biggest loss of his 236-game coaching career in Fremantle’s 90-point defeat to Sydney at Domain Stadium on Sunday.
Pavlich was cheered by the 32,401 crowd every time he touched the ball, with the 34-year-old finishing with 15 disposals and two late goals in a hard-working effort.
After the game, David Mundy and Chris Mayne chaired Pavlich off the ground through a guard of honour formed by Fremantle and Sydney players.
But the 34-year-old’s milestone game will forever be remembered as a dark day for the club, with the Dockers going from minor premiers to easybeats within the space of a year.
Injuries to key players have played a critical role in Fremantle’s demise this season.
But Lyon knows there are a host of other problem areas he needs to fix before the club can be considered a finals contender again.
“We have some genuine concerns out of this. Pre-season can’t come quick enough at the minute,” Lyon said after the 21.11 (137) to 7.5 (47) loss.
“Men win footy games, not abstract thoughts and emotions. Men win footy games, and the team of men won the game today.
“There’s no sugar-coating this. There’s no silver bullet here.
“We’re not going to run away and hide. We need to front up and man up and say, ‘Yep, clearly we need to improve’.
“If we just appeal to personal pride and purpose. We’ll have bits and pieces returning, but it’s not a quick fix.”
Fremantle take on premiership hopefuls West Coast, Adelaide, GWS, and the Bulldogs in their final four games, meaning there is likely to be plenty more pain to come before the curtain goes down on their season.
The Dockers are almost certain to finish in 16th spot after tallying just three wins from 18 games.
Lyon was particularly disappointed at his team’s inept effort in such a big milestone game for club legend Pavlich.
Defender Zac Dawson could spend the next few weeks on the sidelines after dishing out a crunching head-high bump on Sydney’s Jake Lloyd.
Lloyd was able to walk off the field, but he played no further part in the match.
The third-placed Swans are just two percentage points adrift of second-placed GWS as the jostling within the top-eight heats up.
Sydney take on Port Adelaide, St Kilda, North Melbourne, and Richmond over the final four rounds, giving them an excellent chance to pip GWS for second spot.
Swans midfielder Josh Kennedy starred against Fremantle, tallying 45 disposals and three goals to help set the standard.
“He was outstanding,” Swans coach John Longmire said of Kennedy.
“He’s played some really good games for this footy club, but it would have to be up there with them. It was absolutely outstanding.
“You don’t often get (multiple goals) as a midfielder.
“But to be able to go forward and kick goals is a bit of icing on the cake. And to be able to have 10 goalkickers is good.”