Three consecutive poor performances and some Port Adelaide fans are worried. Is 2018 going to be another year of the same old Power? The one that has missed finals two of the last three years and not won a final since 2014.
The more positive fans will put last Saturday night down as a bad night. Unfortunately for Port Adelaide it is something that transpires regularly against Geelong.
There was a lot to be concerned about in the manner of the 34 point loss to Geelong. Poor ball movement, poor skills and while Port are missing some key personnel the Cats certainly had plenty of players missing from their best team.
One player who is certainly struggling at present is Chad Wingard. While it is unlikely the star will be dropped his overall output is a concern and the question now is how does Ken Hinkley get Wingard back to his All-Australian best?
The forward line is an area of the ground that has come under heavy scrutiny for Port Adelaide. Not only this year but recent seasons. The Power was inefficient against Geelong with 52 inside 50s resulting in only seven goals.
Todd Marshall is currently the leading goal kicker at Port with nine goals and Jack Watts is next on the list with seven. Charlie Dixon who kicked 49 goals last year is another who is struggling for scoreboard impact in 2018 with only three goals from five matches.
Ken Hinkley was mainly upbeat despite the loss to the Cats and felt execution and not team structure was the issue
“Geelong hold really good shape behind the ball, they’ve always been good at that and we’ve been aware of that, but we were unable to execute in a way that could hurt them and that’s credit to them”
Fulfilling the role of the small forward
While Chad Wingard has five goals for the season it is his work rate and on-field demeanour that has raised some concerns. The forward certainly makes it known when he thinks he deserves a free kick.
Against Geelong the mercurial forward failed to register a single tackle. We constantly hear about small forwards needing to apply forward-line pressure and it is something Wingard is simply not doing.
If it was an aberration it would not be an issue but it follows only a single tackle laid against the Bombers the previous week.
To put it in perspective there was only one game last year that Wingard did not lay an effective tackle.
Talent and ability is not in dispute and we still see the occasional flash of brilliance from the 24 year-old.
But three tackles in five games thus far in 2018 is a concerning trend and while Wingard is not kicking goals or getting the ball his whole game is under more scrutiny.
Midfield or forward
One of the great strengths of Chad Wingard is the ability to play both forward and spend time through the midfield which we started to see more of last year.
Will more time up the ground get the 24 year-old move involved in the play or does he simply need to function better when up-forward?
So far this season the statistical averages for Wingard compared to last year are down across the board. Averaging less goals, tackles, disposals and it certainly seems he is frustrated.
Michael Voss acknowledged as much on radio this week 'Chad Wingard isn’t at the top of his game. He’ll turn it around. We need to give our forwards better opportunities”
Voss does raise a good point. In the last quarter against Geelong a Port Adelaide forward would have had a better chance clunking a mark at a North Adelaide pub rather than inside 50 given how wide the Power transitioned the ball forward.
Over to you Ken
So what next? Maybe Chad just needs one of those Ken Hinkley pep talks we all hear after a loss “Just need to work harder for longer”
Form is temporary and class is permanent and Chad Wingard is too good a player to keep playing such average football.
The clash tomorrow with North Melbourne is a massive one for Port Adelaide after a testing week and the Power need their star back to his best.