Sydney players after their loss to Richmond. Picture: AAP
Sydney players after their loss to Richmond. Picture: AAP

Swans great reveals root of club’s woes

SYDNEY great Jude Bolton says attempts by players to pass the buck on the field are at the root of the Swans' alarming start to the season.

The Swans' extraordinary record of playing finals football has been under threat ­before this year's 1-4 start, but Sydney find themselves stranded at a rare crossroads heading into Saturday's cross-town derby against GWS.

According to Bolton, there are warning signs that Sydney are a long way from even being able to execute a game plan.

Bolton broke down Sydney's struggles in a detailed analysis on social media following the latest loss to Richmond and fears players are either "devoid of confidence" or "out of form".

He is concerned by a penchant for players to handball to teammates under pressure instead of taking the bull by the horns in key moments.

"Few thoughts on the Swans," Bolton tweeted.

"Turnovers are crippling both flow and quality of entries inside 50.

"Handballs to teammates under pressure highlights attempts to make it someone else's problem.

"(Players) simply folding in the arm wrestle.

"Players either devoid of confidence (or) out of form.

"Until a few of these are addressed, they will be hard-pressed to get any speed into their offence in transition OR execute any game plan."

Dejected Swans players after their loss to the Tigers last weekend. Picture: Getty Images
Dejected Swans players after their loss to the Tigers last weekend. Picture: Getty Images

Sydney's almost two decades of unflappable consistency has defied the rise and fall of many great teams and is a testament to the foundations put in place by coaches Paul Roos and John Longmire.

However, all the numbers now point to Longmire facing an unprecedented struggle to steer his team away from a trough.

Sydney's great strength has always been their stoppage game but on that front, and in the contest, they are being badly exposed.

The Swans are losing the territory game and losing control of their back half.

They return home to the SCG this week, but their former fortress has also fallen over the past two seasons.

The Swans won 72 per cent of their matches at the grand old lady between 2001-17. But last year this dropped to 42 per cent and so far this season they have dropped matches against beatable ­opposition in Melbourne and Adelaide.

Jude Bolton says the Swans are struggling to execute their game plan. Picture: Dylan Robinson
Jude Bolton says the Swans are struggling to execute their game plan. Picture: Dylan Robinson

Sydney have the youngest list in the AFL, but Bolton said there were structural and tactical issues that needed urgent addressing - although he said the "manic" pressure ­created by Richmond last week also deserved credit.

"As much as it's an 18-man offence and defence, you can't all just hunt fwd (forward) when play is flowing," Bolton posted.

"Must have organised defensive structure behind the footy.

"Syd have always been able to win the ball back quickly after a turnover. At present, the next chance is the centre bounce."

Compounding Sydney's struggles is the fact they are no closer to getting stars Nick Smith, Heath Grundy and recruit Daniel Menzel back in the AFL.

Menzel could return in the NEAFL as early as this week but their defensive aces remain some time away.

Jarrad McVeigh is also ­facing another six weeks out.