Halfway through his first year as a senior AFL coach, Phil Walsh can’t decide whether to play good cop or bad cop with his Adelaide side.
But with the Crows’ finals hopes at risk of slipping away, he knows something has to change.
The club marked its 25th anniversary in front of a sold-out Adelaide Oval crowd on Thursday night but there was little to celebrate as the Crows fell to a 29-point loss against Hawthorn.
The Crows were punished for their dismal ball use by the comparatively polished Hawks, who booted six straight goals to seal the win.
Speaking after the game, a frustrated Walsh admitted he wasn’t sure how to inspire his talented charges to better performances.
“Fifty-thousand of our fans turned out to see us, and that last quarter was extremely disappointing,” he told reporters.
“I have great confidence this group is good enough. Maybe I’ve just got to get to know them a little bit better, maybe I’ve got to coach them a little bit harder.
“We’ll have a really hard look at ourselves. We haven’t been able to reward (our) great support this year.”
After trailing for most of the game, the Crows surged to the lead in the third quarter but faded in the final period, kicking just one major.
Walsh said he was frustrated that his side reverted to “safe footy”, kicking long down the line when the pressure was on.
“That’s not going to cut it,” he said.
“That’s not going to allow you to kick 100 points against Hawthorn.”
Midfield gun Patrick Dangerfield was a lone spark for Adelaide against the Hawks, with dangerous forward Eddie Betts well-held and captain Taylor Walker struggling with a corked thigh.
Dangerfield has made clear he won’t be rushed on deciding whether to re-sign with Adelaide amid rampant speculation he could return home to Geelong.
But the Crows have locked away another Victorian star in Rory Sloane, who joined fellow midfielder Richard Douglas this week in signing a three-year contract extension.
Adelaide, whose loss against Hawthorn takes their record to six wins and five losses, will face Brisbane at the Gabba in round 13.