Port Adelaide president David Koch says his AFL team are struggling to cope with the weight of expectation following their break-out 2014 season.
After round 12 last year, the Power were two games clear on top of the competition and would eventually come within a kick of making the grand final.
Fast forward 12 months, Port Adelaide face an uphill task to qualify for finals football after slumping to 12th place on the ladder following a four-point loss to strugglers Carlton.
To Koch, it’s a result of pre-season tips that the Power would be a flag contender.
“All these predictions at the start of the year got way out ahead of themselves,” he told Channel Seven’s AFL Game Day.
“That weight of expectation has played on them.
“Other teams muscle up against us and you can see it in the fumbling and the skills.”
Koch says the early season results are a reminder of the side’s youth.
“I think we’re the 13th or 14th oldest in the competition,” he said.
“We’ve got to learn.
“If you’re going to be a Hawthorn you’ve got to learn to cope under pressure and play tough footy … we’re learning to do that.”
Key forward Jay Schulz, who kicked just a solitary behind against Carlton, took responsibility for his poor showing on Saturday.
“Apologies for my performance, let everyone down. Will work hard to make sure I play the way I should. Unacceptable,” he tweeted.
Koch suggested it was a meritorious action.
“That tweet is an expression of how bitterly disappointed the team is in their form.
“They understand they’ve got a responsibility to the fans.”
The Power are 12th with a 5-7 record and an intimidating draw waiting for them – with games against Sydney, Collingwood and Adelaide – after their bye round next week.
But the president still believes his club will play finals in 2015.
“We never stop trying, we never give up,” he said.
“On our best day we can beat anyone, it’s just getting our headspace right.”
“I’m really confident we’ll make the eight.”