1. 2 year contract extension for Alan Richardson at the end of 2017
While St Kilda had shown promise under Richardson, and improved every year with his guidance, he has been at the helm for over four season now, and is yet to get the Saints a finals berth. At the time it was expected, and reaffirmed the faith that the Saints have in Richo, but now in hindsight a two-year contract extension for a coach who hadn’t got his team to a finals berth in four years seems a strange decision. The decision had two hidden issues for the club as well, as firstly it meant the Saints would struggle to sack Richo given their precarious financial position. It may have also given the club a sense of complacency during the off season, which has led to their very slow start to the season.
2. Extremely poor drafting
It is no secret that the Saints drafting over the last decade has been bordering on horrendous, however looking deeper it gets even worse. From the 2008 to 2012 drafts, a total of 5, only three players from the 18 that were drafted are on their list of 44 players. Interestingly, they all came in the 2011 draft, in the form of Seb Ross, (pick 25), Jack Newnes (pick 37) and Jimmy Webster (pick 42). This is the reason for the vast lack of on field leadership at the saints, as all the players that should be 150-200 game players have either been traded or delisted long ago. The three following drafts in 2013, 14 and 15 are also hit and miss with only six out of the 14 players drafted across the period currently in the clubs best 22, which includes out of out of form players Jack Billings, Luke Dunstan and Paddy Mccartin. It is probably still too early to make a call on the hauls on 2016 and 17, however at least 5 out of the 7 drafted in this period have made their debuts and have some promise.
3. No attack on free agency- when they actually could have
At the end of last year, and even the year before, the saints could have been considered a destination club. A club that was on the rise and seemed destined to return to the eight and contend for the top four in the coming years would carry a lot more bargaining power in luring a free agent than a bottom four club. However, the saints squandered their chance when they had it, when they chose not to strongly go after free agents in 2017 such as Tom Rockliff and Steven Motlop and plenty of others in 2016, with key defender Nathan Brown their only signing, hardly a win. What makes this even more astounding is the fact that the Saints must have cash to burn, with only trade acquisition Jake Carlisle on any significant money.
4. Ross Lyon refusing to play the youngsters
A famously well-known aspect of Ross’ game plan is to have as little reliance on unexperienced players as possible, and while St Kilda were in their premiership contention era, nobody seemed to mind this. But after ‘the boss’ left at the end of the 2011 season, and the Saints had to start again under Scott Waters, they were missing a large part of their list demographic with plenty of draftees yet to be exposed to AFL football. This could also suggest why the saints failed at so many drafts while Ross was in charge, but what can be certain is that it left the Saints in big trouble for the years to come.
5. Terrible salary cap management
As former St Kilda head of football Chris Pelchen revealed earlier this year, their salary cap between 2011-13 was in shatters. They had the oldest list in 2011, yet still had their cap completely maxed out for the three years of this period. Having 63% of your salary cap being spent on just 10 players is very much unheard of, and definitely contributed to the lack of pursuit of free agency over this period. It also forced out a couple of genuine A-graders in Nick Dal Santo and Brendan Goddard, due to the fact that the Saints simply couldn’t afford to keep them. This particularly hurts in times like now, as Brendan Goddard would be extremely important with his leadership in tough times like this, and Dal Santo would have been a terrific role model for young midfielders at the club.