AFL Rd 4 - Collingwood v GWS
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: Jordan De Goey of the Magpies looks dejected after losing the round four AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 10, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The Magpies endured a tough season on-field that never really got going. Here is the club's season review.

Season Finish: 17th [85.6%]
Record: Six wins and 16 losses

2021 Season snapshot

Collingwood's 2021 campaign was a disappointing one, with only six wins to show for it.

Their poor showing started at last year's trade period when they pushed out talented players in Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson and Tom Phillips in order to free up cap space and improve their draft hand.

The Magpies would then roll out a much more inexperienced side in 2021, a squad that was vastly different from the sides contending for a premiership in 2018 and 2019.

The Magpies would lose five of their first six games and drop to 17th on the ladder. From there the pressure mounted on head coach Nathan Buckley, who departed from the club after their Round 13 win over eventual premiers Melbourne, which was a big win in an otherwise unfortunate situation for Magpies great.

Collingwood Magpies Training Session
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 28: Magpies coach, Nathan Buckley is seen during a Collingwood Magpies AFL training session at Holden Centre on April 28, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Assistant coach Robert Harvey took over as interim coach, and bled some youth into the side, which was a positive for the club who had solid wins over Richmond and West Coast in the back end of the season.

The black and white never got going at all in 2021, a sharp decline from contending for premierships just a couple of years ago, and they only have themselves to blame for it.

Star player: Jordan De Goey

Jordan De Goey has turned himself into a very good hybrid player for the Magpies, transforming from a goal-kicking forward to a ball-winning midfielder who often would combine the two qualities to produce seriously impressive games.

Averaged 21 disposals, five marks and four inside 50s whilst also kicking 23 goals for the season.

It was his second half of the year after being injected into the midfield where he started to dominate and show his true value in the centre.

From Round 11 onwards, the damaging utility averaged 27.4 disposals per game and will look to sustain a permanent midfield role for the years to come.

Finished fourth in the club's best and fairest and polled nine Brownlow votes, and with a full season in the midfield, the 25-year-old could produce even better results than that in the future.

Breakout player: Isaac Quaynor

Isaac Quaynor enjoyed a strong season for the Magpies, averaging 18 disposals, five marks and four rebound 50s per game in just his third season.

A classy player off half-back that will only get better heading into next season.

Finished eighth in the best and fairest and could take another big leap in the standings come the end of 2022.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Isaac Quaynor of the Magpies handpasses the ball during the 2019 AFL round 16 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 05, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

At 21 years of age, Quaynor made it onto the 22under22 team on the half-back, representing the best team put together in the AFL who are 22 or younger.

One to look out for in the future.

Positives

Bleeding youth into the side: The Magpies had nine debutants throughout the 2021 season, the most by any side in the competition.

This type of exposure to their young brigade will only do them good for the future as the Pies enter a rebuilding phase.

Beau McCreery, Finlay Macrae, Trent Bianco, Caleb Poulter and Jack Ginnivan all showed promising signs in their first season and will look to keep improving under new head coach Craig McRae.

Collingwood Magpies Training Session
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 28: Caleb Poulter of the Magpies is challenged by Trey Ruscoe during a Collingwood Magpies AFL training session at Holden Centre on April 28, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The Pies will also be bolstered by father-son product Nick Daicos in the upcoming draft, which should be an exciting proposition for Pies supporters.

Post-season appointments: Collingwood have been quick to move on from their disappoitning season on the field, and have shown encouraging signs off it by appointing their new head coach, former Richmond VFL coach and Lions premiership player Craig McRae.

McRae has an impressive resume as both a player and coach, winning three premierships with the Brisbane Lions as a player, and has served under Alastair Clarkson and Damien Hardwick as a coach, winning the 2019 VFL premiership.

McRae was impressive in his first press conference as head coach and has since been joined by former teammate Justin Leppitsch as Head of Strategy and also former Carlton head coach Brendan Bolton as Director of Coaching.

Appointments at the Holden Centre didn't stop there, with recently retired Demons defender Neville Jetta joining the club as a development coach. Former Pies ruckman Josh Fraser has also joined as head of Academy.

These signings breathe fresh air and a new culture into the club, as McRae and his team rebuild the side and attack the 2022 season with a full head of steam.

Negatives

Off-field issues: Part of Collingwood's disappointing season came from all of the drama that was happening off-field.

It started with the 'Do Better' report which found Collingwood guilty of 'systemic racism' throughout its history.

The fallout of the report led to long-term Collingwood president Eddie McGuire resigning from his position in February.

Mark Korda and Peter Murphy became interim presidents before Korda took over solely as president in April before recently announcing he would be stepping down as president, further highlighting a season of unrest at the football club.

Collingwood Magpies Press conference & Intra-Club Match
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 01: Collingwood President Eddie McGuire speaks to the media at Collingwood Magpies AFL press conference at the Glasshouse Event Space on February 01, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Collingwood's poor on-field performance caused coach Nathan Buckley to go under intense media scrutiny which became a distraction for the playing group and for Buckley as there was uncertainty surrounding his position.

Buckley would eventually part ways with the club, with Robert Harvey taking over for the remainder of the season.

List management strategy: It's no secret that Collingwood completely botched the trade period last season and losing star players in Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson and Tom Phillips for virtually no return hurt the club a lot.

It would've hurt fans even more knowing the players wanted to stay at the club but were pushed out.

The list management wanted to clear salary cap space and improve their draft hand, in which they acquired six players in the first 44 picks.

AFL Rd 1 - Collingwood v Western Bulldogs
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Adam Treloar of the Bulldogs and Jordan De Goey of the Magpies embrace after the final siren during the 2021 AFL Round 01 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 19, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Of those six players, four have debuted and shown promising signs but it doesn't make up for getting rid of three quality players to do so.

Now the list is very inexperienced and will need a fair bit of time to get games into them in order to be contending again.

Season grade: D-

The Magpies weren't expected to be as good as they were in 2020 where they won a final, but they weren't expected to perform this poorly.

17th on the ladder is not where they wanted to end up, but with an inexperienced list, it's hard to see them bouncing back up the ladder anytime soon.

The season was really over early on in the season, starting with a 1-5 record, making finals a very slim possibility.

The Pies then lingered in the bottom four for the rest of the season with some glimpses of a bright future shown in the back half of the season.

AFL Rd 4 - Collingwood v GWS
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: Taylor Adams and his Magpies team mates look dejected after losing the round four AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 10, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

It's not all doom and gloom however for the Magpies. They still have captain Scott Pendlebury as well as experienced leaders in Steele Sidebottom, Taylor Adams and Brodie Grundy.

Paired with up and coming players in Isaac Quaynor, John Noble and other youngsters in Trent Bianco, Caleb Poulter and the soon to be drafted Nick Daicos.

While the list could've been in a better place, there is enough to build on that should see the Magpies perform better next season than they did this year.