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Enough column inches have been devoted to the mixed fortunes of Manchester United in recent times, with Jose Mourinho’s woes generating headlines from Salford to Sydney. As most United fans are, painfully, aware, the troubles of the club are not just about lacking quality in certain areas on the pitch, but rather encompass the full spectrum of what’s wrong with modern global football.

Is that too harsh an assessment for a team that finished second in the Premier League last year? Who won the Europa League just a couple of seasons ago? Perhaps. But even when achieving those, admittedly secondary, goals fans have been acutely aware that all was not right. That second-place finish in the Premier League last year was the embodiment of the phrase ‘runner-up is the first loser’. United were so far behind Manchester City that the contest was effectively over by Christmas.

United already ruled out of title race by bookies

Now, as we approach the Premier League’s important Christmas period, the league title looks well beyond United’s reach again. Some online betting sites, like Betway, have put United’s odds at 500/1 to win the Premier League. To make matters worse, it looks like a two-way fight between their hated rivals, Manchester City (1/4) and Liverpool (4/1). Even when United stuttered under Sir Alex Ferguson, bookmakers did not rule out their chances to mount a comeback at this stage of the season.

If you want to appreciate how far United have objectively fallen, consider how they are priced at 40/1 by Bet365 to win the Champions League, whereas Liverpool have been given odds of 16/1. While that might seem normal, it has to be noted that Liverpool have yet to secure the place in the knockout stages and are precariously placed to do so, whereas United, through some good fortune, have booked their spot.

Mourinho has escaped criticism

Normally when a club faces a decline in fortunes, fans’ ire is turned towards the couch. It has been remarkable how little flak Jose Mourinho has received, given the results of a club whose spending on transfers has been among the world’s highest over the last few years. After several notable defeats, Mourinho has been clapped off by the fans. It feels like they will stick with him for the foreseeable future.

Aguero Scores in The Derby | Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United | Post Match Reaction - YouTube

Why has Mourinho had relatively little criticism? Because fans are angry with nearly every level of the club hierarchy. Mourinho hasn’t caused Paul Pogba to be infuriatingly erratic, or Romelu Lukaku to look cumbersome and lethargic. Both those players have been turning it on at international level, which suggests their attitude is wrong. As for Alexis Sanchez? Well, he looks like an imposter.

Woodward a target for fans

However, most of the fans’ anger is reserved for Ed Woodward, the Executive Vice Chairman who controls the purse strings of the club. Under Woodward’s stewardship United have acquired marketing deals all over the globe, allowing the club to rake in unprecedented revenue. The problem is that Woodward has no experience in football. Glaring problems have become apparent in United’s team, especially the defence, and the infrastructure of the youth set up.

These have been ignored over the years by Woodward and the owners, the Glazer family. Players are sitting on huge contracts that they would not receive at any other club, yet results remain sluggish. It’s a sign of bad management from top to bottom when a club is spending money and spending badly.

There is no easy answer when a club has so much of a multi-faceted set of problems. United have huge debts that encourage Woodward to pursue those marketing deals. But, as a consequence, there is also a demand for instant success, with United throwing money at issues when they should be patiently re-building. The main question now is if we are seeing the end of an empire, or if this once great club can turn things around.

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Carlton made headlines when they traded into the draft to snag Morrish Medallist Liam Stocker. For a side that many have given short odds for the least amount of wins in the 2019 season it could mean that they traded a likely top 5 pick for picks 19 and a likely improving Adelaide’s future first rounder.

On paper they paid a hefty price for Stocker but when you look at this trade you have to calculate the value of a player in hand. To say that Carlton have been in a slump would be putting it nicely. They’ve been underperforming now for way too long. Having a the pick they sent to the Crows to draft or trade with at the end of 2019 does the Blues no good this year and in the long term is only really helpful in terms of having a pretty looking age profile. Obviously they’d expect to take a good player with what will likely be a high pick, but still it provides no value to their list right now.

Having an extra year of development in a high quality midfielder like Stocker mitigates the pure loss of value in future draft picks. By this time next year you can think of the trade being something like Adelaide trading a talented 19 year old mid with a year of development and pick around 10 for Carlton’s pick 2 (assuming Adelaide finish mid-table and Carlton bottom four).

If this was done last year you could think of it as trading Jack Lukosius for something like Ed Richards and Jy Caldwell. You’d be hestitant to do that trade because Lukosius is probably the best pick 2 we’ve seen since Jarryd Roughead, but the trade is far from a disaster. Ed Richards will probably have a great year in 2019, building on his very good debut year. And Carlton will still have a first round selection to take next year, which if Adelaide’s ageing list continues to go backwards could well be in the top ten.

In modern footy development has its own value and you can’t look simply at the number of points a pick is worth when analysing trades. You only need to look at the success of mature players like Tim Kelly, Tom Stewart, Liam Ryan and Bailey Fritsch to see that snagging the highest rated 18 year old isn’t the only way to getting high quality footballers into an AFL team thes days.

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The AFL’s 2018 national draft was the first ever to feature live trades, adding extra theatre to the spectacle and allowing a club to make moves to secure players before another could swoop. In typical AFL style there was more than a little controversy to the night as the dare and imagination shown by team recruiting managers was more than the rulemakers or public could have seen coming

1. Sly Sydney

The Swans were the first club to ever make a live trade and they did it in style. To snare academy option Nick Blakey as cheaply as possible the Swans traded with the Eagles on each side of the GWS’ bid for the forward.

The @sydneyswans have traded their 2019 second round pick for pick 24 from the @WestCoastEagles. #AFLDraft pic.twitter.com/hOVVmwQgsd

— NAB AFL Draft (@AFLDraft) November 22, 2018

The @sydneyswans have traded pick 26 for a 2019 third round pick from the @WestCoastEagles #AFLDraft pic.twitter.com/ata26O7ZOX

— NAB AFL Draft (@AFLDraft) November 22, 2018

The move was so unexpected the AFL have said they will look into whether the rules should be changed to prevent clubs from doing the same in future.

2. Stocker shocker

The second trade event of the night has made even more headlines than the first. Carlton traded with Adelaide for their pick 19 and future first rounder giving up their 2019 first round pick in exchange. Carlton then went on to take Morrish medallist Liam Stocker.

It’s come out since that Carlton rated Stocker as the sixth best player in the draft, but if they finish close bottom four as expected and Adelaide make it back into finals it will be reviewed as a very costly trade.

Carlton have traded their 2019 first round pick for Adelaide's pick 19 and their 2019 first round pick.#AFLDraft

— NAB AFL Draft (@AFLDraft) November 22, 2018

3. Eagles make 1+0 = 2

The Eagles performed a series of trades to turn their coveted pick 23 (the first pick of the second day of drafting) into picks 28 and 31.

Facilitated by Gold Coast who wanted 23 to take intercepting backman Jez McLennan, West Coast used 28 on speedy mid Xavier O’Neill. 31 was spent on on overager Luke Foley who averaged 25 touches in the Colts this year.

Pick Swap: @WestCoastEagles traded Pick 23 and a 2019 fourth-round pick to the @GoldCoastSuns in exchange for picks 27 and 32. #AFLDraft pic.twitter.com/KU2Bjo423V

— NAB AFL Draft (@AFLDraft) November 23, 2018

4. Roos snag slider

North Melbourne might have gotten a shock by Adelaide bidding on NGA prospect Tarryn Thomas at pick 8, but when father-son Bailey Scott slid the next day it gave them the opportunity to play the live trade system like pros.

Curtis Taylor ended up with the Roos when they were able to shuffle picks left aside for a higher bid for Scott. Taylor, the medium forward that has been compared to Mark LeCras, was invited to the first day of the draft as a potential top 20 prospect and was seen as one of the biggest sliders on the night.

Pick swap:@stkildafc trades its 2019 third-round pick to @NMFCOfficial for pick 51. #AFLDraft pic.twitter.com/ZRzF2PZa6H

— NAB AFL Draft (@AFLDraft) November 23, 2018

Pick swap:@westernbulldogs trade pick 46 to @NMFCOfficial in exchange for the Roos’ 2019 third-round pick.#AFLDraft pic.twitter.com/Q2xVXU4EQP

— NAB AFL Draft (@AFLDraft) November 23, 2018

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AFL followers are relishing the drama and rumours of who is joining which club ahead of the season. You don’t require detailed knowledge and a degree in sports to recognize a talented young player. A simple eye test is enough, meaning without any requirement of stats you can just tell when a player is talented. But the real talent hunters wait for the late draft or even the rookie draft.

There is a history of clubs having drafted important free agents in the final stages of the draft. Who moves where has a lot of impact on the betting odds of a team. If a team drafts an excellent player who could improve their performances then certainly punters’ decision would be influenced by that. In order to stay updated thebookiesoffers is the perfect platform as it provides updated odds from various reputed bookmakers. On top of that there are also offers like free bets and enhanced odds.

Sports betting of any sort requires in depth knowledge of both the game and the teams, unless all you’re interested in are blind bets and blinder luck. Knowing, for example, that the upcoming match between Man United and Crystal Palace places a bookie’s favourite against a club that has a habit of pulling miracles wins out of hats, should inform how you interpret the odds of 5/12 for Manchester United, when major upsets from Crystal Palace may not be out of the bounds reality.

Billy Hartung kicks true (Round 4, 2018) - YouTube

Billy Hartung

As the list of all the delisted and retired players started getting longer many were left surprised to see Billy Hartung’s name on it. He was playing extremely well for North Melbourne and at just 23 years of age his delisting did not make much sense. Agreed that he got injured mid-season but up until that point he had featured in every game for his team and put in some fine performances.

In the fourteen games that he played he averaged seventeen touches per game. On top of that he displayed his athleticism with a plenty of outside runs. Despite the injury to his hamstring he is a top player and will be looking for a new club.

There is an argument that he has been delisted twice now, by Hawthorns before the Roos let him go. But his performances this year showed that he is a player on the rise and could be an excellent addition to any team.

Cory Gregson

Playing footy on the highest level takes a heavy toll on the players’ body. At just 22 years young Cory Gregson has felt the full effect of the rigours of the game. If taken proper care injuries can be avoided but Gregson has had no luck with injuries so far. He just can’t seem to stay fit for an elongated period.

Geelong’s decision of delisting him comes as no surprise given his poor injury record. However he has managed 39 appearances in one of the best teams in the league and that he has achieved at such a young age is quite impressive. There is no doubt about his talent and if he gets his fitness sorted then he could prove to be a bargain for the club that drafts him.

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Will the Adelaide Crows Be Able to Bounce Back from an Underwhelming 2018?

The 2019 AFL season will offer a fresh start for many clubs and it will provide the perfect opportunity to start afresh and press the reset button. The Crows are one of a handful of clubs who will be hoping to turn over a new leaf once the campaign gets underway at the end of March. Round 1 pitches them against Hawthorn at the Adelaide Oval and they’ll be hoping to give their fans something to cheer about on the opening day of the season.

"The crisis and mismanagement of this camp has been plunged into depths we previously didn’t think possible.” @sam_mcclure provides explosive new details on the Adelaide Crows' pre-season camp | https://t.co/NyHZTR7WkJ | #AFL pic.twitter.com/Iv9BjFdeD2

— SEN 1116 (@1116sen) August 27, 2018

There was plenty of confidence going into the 2018 campaign following their appearance in the 2017 Grand Final. They were unable to prevent Richmond running riot at the MCG but despite that 48-point loss in the showpiece event, they were still expected to be challenging for the top four once again. It didn’t go according to plan for the Crows and despite finishing with a respectable percentage of 104.1, they could only finish 12th on the ladder. There is plenty of room for improvement.

Throughout the 2017 season, they were regularly priced up as the fancied side and that continued in the Grand Final when the bookmakers made them hot favourites to beat Richmond. Following their underwhelming campaign, they can now be backed at $15.00 in the latest Aussie Rules betting to win this year’s showpiece event although a far more realistic $3.50 is available for them to return to the top four in 2019.

A much needed shake-up during the off-season begun with the departure of Mitch McGovern who was sent to Carlton. The Crows received Shane McAdam and a first-round pick in the draft in exchange for their outgoing forward. McAdam appears to be a suitable replacement and should slot in nicely after kicking 31 goals in the State League last year. They will be looking to further bolster their squad in the AFL Draft with plenty of South Australian talent available. They currently have two first-round picks and will be looking to use them wisely. There are a number of coveted youngsters who may interest the Crows with Connor Rozee and Jack Lukosius both likely to be popular picks at this year’s draft.

“It’s not something the clubs like”

Adelaide Crows CEO Says Quirk In The Club’s Fixture Should Correct In 2020 >> https://t.co/5lXhouMIsh pic.twitter.com/oplIpjmVtr

— FIVEaa (@1395FIVEaa) November 2, 2018

Of the existing squad, midfielders Bryce Gibbs and Rory Sloane have returned to training early with the pair aiming to set an example to the younger players in the squad. There appears to be a positive feeling within the camp and that can only benefit the team going forward. The coaches appear to be putting an emphasis on making a fast start to the new season as they aim to catch their opponents cold during the opening couple of weeks.

Last year’s pre-season camp divided the squad and that was partly blamed for the team’s overall lack of progress. With 138 days between the return to training and the start of the new season, there can be very few excuses for a below-par start in 2019. Although, it hasn’t been a complete overhaul, the Crows appear to be heading in the right direction once again and they still possess a hugely talented roster which should help them challenge for a top four position next season.

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Here it is, Big Footy draft legend Knightmare’s 2018 phantom draft. Known for his legendary BF phantom draft threads, where he answers questions by all comers, Knightmare can now also be found on ESPN where you can find this phantom in greater detail.

1. Carlton
Sam Walsh (VIC)

Height, Weight: 183cm, 74kg

2. Gold Coast
Jack Lukosius (SA)
Height, Weight:
 194cm, 85kg

3. Gold Coast
Izak Rankine (SA)
Height, Weight:
 180cm, 76kg

Izak Rankine v Allies | 2018 NAB U18 Championships - YouTube

4. St Kilda
Max King (VIC)
Height, Weight:
 202cm, 86kg

5. Port Adelaide
Ben King (VIC)
Height, Weight:
 202cm, 85kg

6. Gold Coast
Connor Rozee (SA)
Height, Weight: 
185cm, 71kg

7. Western Bulldogs
Bailey Smith (VIC)
Height, Weight: 
185cm, 82kg

8. Adelaide
Jye Caldwell (VIC)
Height, Weight:
 184cm, 78kg

9. GWS
Jordan Clark (WA)
Height, Weight:
 182cm, 78kg

10. Port Adelaide
Chayce Jones (TAS)
Height, Weight:
 180cm, 74kg

Chayce Jones | 2018 NAB U18 Championships | Allies v Vic Country - YouTube

11. GWS
Riley Collier-Dawkins (VIC)
Height, Weight: 
193cm, 88kg

12. Geelong
Sam Sturt (VIC)
Height, Weight:
 188cm, 79kg

13. Adelaide
Jackson Hately (SA)
Height, Weight:
 190cm, 81kg

14. Fremantle
Zak Butters (VIC)
Height, Weight: 
181cm, 70kg

15. Port Adelaide
Xavier Duursma (VIC)
Height, Weight: 
185cm, 71kg

16. Adelaide
Curtis Taylor (VIC)
Height, Weight: 
186cm, 79kg

17. Richmond
Liam Stocker (VIC)
Height, Weight:
 183cm, 83kg

Liam Stocker - 2018 AFL Draft Prospect - YouTube

18. Brisbane
Jez McLennan (SA)
Height, Weight:
 183cm, 81kg

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With AFL being one of the most popular sports in the country, there’s naturally a great deal of discussion and analysis on every aspect of the game. Everything from the training performance of individual players to their social media activity is scrutinised in various capacities by fans and commentators who want to have the most complete picture of the sport they can get.

One area that can get overlooked is the way in which our professional footy athletes are dieting in order to give their bodies the greatest advantage on the field. Certainly, a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for peak performance in any physical activity and for life in general, but what are the most ideal eating habits for AFL players?

We know that our footy players aren’t lazy and definitely don’t shy away from preparing their own meals at home, with a few of them no doubt opting for quick and delicious recipes with ingredients they can have delivered straight to them. There are plenty of options on the kitchen table, but aspiring athletes probably want to know what the most optimal meal plan is.

We know that AFL is a very physically demanding sport, being broken up into 20 minute quarters (although they can exceed this) that are filled with intense bursts of activity from all players. Depending on the way the team rotates its players, the actual time any individual spends running on the pitch can vary.

Needless to say, our AFL players need to have the right nutrition to fuel the high level of activity they undertake. Of course, the field position that the player is in will also influence the kind of minimum nutrition their body needs in order to sustain themselves throughout a match.

For example, mid-fielders are going to run greater distances and therefore need greater overall endurance while defenders need to be effective in short, aggressive bursts. Therefore it can be assumed that specific dieting should be approached slightly differently for individual players depending on their role.

Let’s take a look at what the most optimal eating habits are for each stage of an AFL player’s typical match cycle.

Training diets

In order to maximise player performance and their overall health, training diets need to incorporate a diverse range of nutrition. This is the most important stage of a player’s eating habits as the majority of training will take place in the off-season where other commitments may interfere with their ability to stick to a meal plan.

For example, players who work secondary jobs and/or raise children during the off-season are more likely to break their diet purely out of convenience. Players who fail to be vigilant during this period can not only jeopardise their training performance but also their overall performance when it comes time to play again.

Naturally, the training diet an AFL player undertakes will be more focused on providing nutrition that works towards long-term goals like muscle building and improved stamina. This is especially important for younger players who need to nurture their natural development while also working towards AFL specific fitness goals.

When it comes to training diets, a high level of protein and carbohydrates is standard for improving stamina and enhancing muscle recovery and repair. Healthy fats are also encouraged along with a mix of wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts.

Pre-game diets

In the days building up to a match, players benefit greatly from eating regimens that focus on the concept of ‘carbohydrate loading’. This entails consuming around 10-12g of carbs per kilogram of total body weight, with meals being spread apart by 2-3 hours.

Because matches can take place at different times of the day, the start time of the match will also influence what players consume beforehand. A pre-game ‘fuelling’ meal will usually take place 2-4 hours before the start of the match.

Again, the focus here is for players to consume carbohydrates to fuel them throughout the game, although some protein can be useful for reducing feelings of hunger while playing. As always, fluids are essential for preventing dehydration during the match.

While carbohydrates are the focus, dieticians still recommend that players continue to consume a good mix of proteins, good fats and a good amount of water prior to the start of a match.

Mid-game diets

Quarter and half time breaks are ideal timeframes for players to refuel, although they will normally choose to skip heavy, solid foods in order to avoid stomach upsets during the high intensity of the game. In these break times, many players will opt to consume energy gels or sports drinks that replenish their glycogen stores.

Most importantly, players need to replenish the carbohydrates they’ve burnt during the match so they can continue to play at their peak. As always, consuming a good amount of fluids is essential to preventing dehydration during the rest of the game.

Post-game diets

When the match is over, the recovery process begins. After an intense game, a player’s body will be depleted and in order to avoid post-match injury or illness they need to refuel appropriately. Rest is also essential post-game.

For around 30-60 minutes post-game, a player’s muscles will absorb nutrients at a higher rate and therefore it’s an important window of time to get some much needed protein and carbohydrates in. Eating well post-exercise is always recommended as a means of maximising the positive effects of the physical exertion that took place.

It’s normal for most players not to have a big appetite post-match simply because of how tired they are. Finding the right post-match food is important to ensure that players get the right nutrition and don’t skip meals because they find them unpalatable in their exhausted state.

We can’t talk about AFL dieting without mentioning alcohol since it’s a common post-game ritual when celebrating a victory or coping with a defeat. Of course, alcohol should be consumed in moderation, but most sports dieticians will recommend that players stay away from the drink entirely in order to maximise their recovery.

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Another Big Footy phantom draft straight off the press! This time it’s D_P_S who we have been following for a while now. This is his most in depth look at the draft yet.

“Hello everyone and welcome to my edition of the 2018 Phantom Draft, many who have watched my Draft Watch thread would have seen my Rolling Mock Draft which was a bit of fun trying to predict who clubs would take using a combination of hearsay and my own personal views, what ive done different for this years Phantom Draft is that im going completely with my own personal views, just because the media and general public believe a certain player should go in a certain position means nothing for this draft so what im doing isnt an attempt to predict how this year draft will go more so what it should have ended up looking by the end of it.

I feel this is a better way to do my phantom this year as live trading could make any phantom to come out not even close to the real thing so why not have some fun going completely of my own views, so a few little bullet points below as to how this phantom will go

– This is the whole National Draft

– No mature age players included counting only 19 year olds

– Upgraded rookies are not included

– Available list spots is something i could have i could have put more time into but if their is any issue its too late to change so just imagine that late pick isnt taken if you want – The picks you see will be very different to the official order, this is because of player bids and residual picks so please keep this in mind i dont want to have to explain myself on this

– Player profiles and reasoning will be saved for Club review posts below the draft, i wont go too in depth with profiles as ill put a link to AFL Draft Central’s profiles with every player included here having a profile on their site. https://www.afldraftcentral.com.au/draft/

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