Fremantle coach Ross Lyon is adamant he and his players won’t fracture under the intense pressure confronting the club, saying the tough period could ultimately define the team.
The Dockers’ premiership hopes already appear over after opening the season with four straight AFL losses.
Lyon’s attempt to transform Fremantle into a more attacking unit this season has backfired spectacularly, with the Dockers nursing the third worst percentage in the league after leaking an average of 113 points per game.
Never before has a Lyon-coached team opened the season with four straight losses.
But the 59-year-old has been able to overcome several other dire situations during his coaching career.
In Lyon’s final year as coach of St Kilda in 2011, the Saints had just one win to their name after seven rounds before storming home to reach the finals.
And in Lyon’s first year as coach of Fremantle in 2012, AFL great Kevin Bartlett labelled the Dockers “unwatchable” after they managed a paltry 5.6 in a 48-point western derby loss to West Coast in round nine.
Fremantle went on to post one of their most famous finals victories later that year – a 16-point elimination final win over Geelong at the MCG, before reaching the grand final a year later.
Now, Lyon has laid down the challenge for his players and coaching staff to overcome the current form crisis.
“This period will define us … it’s how you respond,” said Lyon, who recently re-signed with Fremantle until the end of 2020.
“And if you’re a senior player, your legacy is how you inspire young players when things are tough, to work through it and come out the other side.
“And that’s the same as senior coach and my coaching group.
“We’ve all seen clubs fragment and they wobble under pressure, and people rattle the cage.
“We’ve been here before. I don’t think it was a glorious start to my tenure here.
“I’m sure there were some things written and said, even after the first derby.
“We didn’t fracture. All we did was work hard and we improved our footy. So that’s the aim again.”
Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe says the playing group are willing to wear some short-term pain in order to achieve long-term success.
Lyon praised the resilience of his group, but said there were no guarantees.
“Well I know there’s plenty of short term pain. We tick that first box don’t we?” Lyon said.
“And we’ll be able to judge down the track whether there’s been some long-term benefit.”
Fremantle will have the perfect chance to snap their losing run when they take on struggling Carlton in Sunday’s bottom-of-the-table clash at Domain Stadium.
Lyon confirmed skipper David Mundy would miss a third straight game with a calf issue, but ruckman Zac Clarke (knee) is a chance to return.