MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Nathan Jones and Jack Viney of the Demons celebrate winning the AFL Semi Final match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Melbourne Demons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 14, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

2020 Recap

The Dees missed the finals last year but were much improved from their disaster 2019 as they looked a finals team during parts of the 2020 season, but as can be the way with Melbourne, they were also made to look miles off it at times.

Christian Petracca had a break-out season as a full-time midfielder and he was able to solidify himself as one the league's best players. His ability to win the football and hit the scoreboard made him very hard to stop.

AFL Rd 5 - Melbourne v Richmond
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: Christian Petracca of the Demons in action during the round 5 AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Richmond Tigers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 05, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

They were unable to bridge the gap between their best and worst football, an all-too-often seen Melbourne trait. That simply can't go on should they wish to play finals.

Off-season moves

Ins

Ben Brown (North Melbourne), Jake Bowey (Draft), Bailey Laurie (Draft), Fraser Rosman (Draft).

Outs

Kyle Dunkley (Delisted), Corey Wagner (Delisted), Josh Wagner (Delisted), Harley Bennell (Retired), Mitch Hannan (Western Bulldogs), Braydon Preuss (GWS).

Off-season grade: B-

The Dees brought in a a key-forward they desperately needed and did it for a basement price. Ben Brown comes in to take control of the struggling Melbourne forward line.

Melbourne had no issue with getting the ball to their forward line last year ranking 7th for inside 50's, but did so with little system. Too often teams were able to hold the Demons out and eventually hit them going the other way.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 19: Mitch Hannan and Sam Weideman of the Demons celebrate a goal during the round 22 AFL match between the West Coast Eagles and Melbourne Demons at Optus Stadium on August 19, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

They didn't lose too much although Mitch Hanna looks like a good one that got away, a struggling forward line can ill-afford to lose such a smart goal-scorer.

Brayden Preuss left for greener pastures but Luke Jackson will cover that void and they managed to hold on to Clayton Oliver despite numerous rumours surrounding his future.

Defining Period

Rounds 7-10 looms as a huge month for the Dees, they need to play finals this year and to do that they need to beat the teams below them. No longer can Melbourne start a game as favourites and get beat.

In this month they play North Melbourne, Sydney, Carlton and Adelaide. Other than the Carlton game they are all but certainties to start favourites in these games. The North and Adelaide games are on the road but that's no excuse in earning the four points.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 02: Max Gawn of the Demons is tackled by Patrick Cripps of the Blues during the round two AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Carlton Blues at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 2, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

If Melbourne lose two of these they will immediately be behind the chasing pack at the home turn, and it'll be the same old Dees.

Best 22

B: Michael Hibberd, Steven May, Jay Lockhart

HB: Trent Rivers, Jake Lever, Adam Tomlinson

C: Christian Salem, Angus Brayshaw, Ed Langdon

HF: Bayley Fritsch, Sam Weideman, James Harmes

F: Kysaiah Pickett, Ben Brown, Jake Melksham

FOLL: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca

I/C: Jack Viney, Luke Jackson, Jayden Hunt, Neville Jetta

Strengths and Weaknesses

No denying the depth of Melbourne's midfield, they are stacked in the engine room and are a very good ball wining team. Led by Clayton Oliver and Petracca, who are spoon fed by skipper Max Gawn, the Dees have no issue winning their own footy.

They're developing a good defensive lineup, led by Jake Lever and Steven May. The pair are the pillars of the Melbourne defence and have made the Dees a tough nut to crack.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 30: Steven May of the Demons celebrates kicking a goal during the round 15 AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and the Melbourne Demons at The Gabba on June 30, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

But their clear issue is their forward line, you just don't know where the goals are coming from, they rely heavily on midfield goals which is ok but they don't have a reliable key forward who will bag them a safe 35-40 goals a year outside of Brown. Their mid-size forward line relies on good foot-skills and that's an area the Dees struggle in.

Prediction

10th

Melbourne have the ability to play finals but they are too hard to have any confidence in, whether it be their poor foot skills or their mental fortitude that gets in the way, who knows?

AFL Rd 5 - Melbourne v Richmond
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 05: The Demons look dejected after losing the round 5 AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Richmond Tigers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 05, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

But they can't play finals if they are going to lose games they shouldn't. Their forward line is another worry, no Brown or Sam Weideman for the early parts of the season may see them in trouble early and unable to recover.