James Hird has refused to concede Essendon’s AFL finals chances have been dashed by their 69-point loss to Geelong on Saturday night.
The defeat was Essendon’s worst in two seasons, with a final scoreline that flattered their woeful first-half effort.
Just prior to three-quarter time, the Bombers trailed by 15 goals to one in one of their tamest performances under Hird.
By his own yardstick, the Bombers failed the test set by Hird against Geelong.
After declaring on Friday that this was a game the Bombers “needed to play well in and hopefully win” if they wanted to play finals, Hird’s ambitions to play through September look dashed.
Essendon travels to West Coast next week and could head into the bye at 4-7 in the win-loss, but Hird maintains hope he can turn their season around.
“It’s a thoroughly disappointing performance tonight but it’s not the end of the world,” he said.
“It puts us four and six, which is disappointing but it’s certainly not over.”
Astonishingly, Hird’s side won the clearances by 18 but lost the match by 11 goals.
Essendon continually turned the ball over by foot, gifting the Cats possession in attack.
Hird joked about a radical solution before deciding on a more mainstream approach; hard work and some changes at selection.
“We can’t cut their feet off and put new ones on, if we could we might have tonight, but we can’t,” he said.
“Under pressure we didn’t execute our skills and we need to get better at that.
“We can turn it around with hard work and practice.”
Tom Bellchambers’ days in ruck look numbered after he was substituted at half-time.
But Hird said he was just one of several underperformers.
“He’s like a number of our players who didn’t play the way they would have liked and the way we would have liked them to play,” he said.
Hird said captain Jobe Watson hoped to return against the Eagles.
“We’ll certainly be pushing him out the door and rubbing his leg a bit harder this week to get it right.”