WESTERN Bulldogs great Brad Johnson believes his old side needs a dramatic change in attitude to propel them back into finals contention.
The Bulldogs last year showed the football world how relentless aggression and unwavering
self-belief can win you a premiership, no matter where you finish on the ladder.
But six losses from their past eight games have left many wondering what happened to that spark and premiership-winning gameplan.
Several premiership heroes, like Jason Johannisen and Tom Liberatore, have not been as influential on the field compared to last year.
Speaking on the Fox Footy Podcast, Johnson suggests that a swift change in mindset could propel the reigning premiers back onto the winner’s list.
“I think it’s more about players being hunted v hunting,” Johnson said.
“That’s purely mindset for me. They can go out and hunt the opposition, the opposition can come at them and they can go back just as hard.
“They need to do it over the next month to play finals.”
With the Dogs sitting in 11th position, this week’s game against Carlton proves to be a great opportunity for a role reversal.
Johnson said a more aggressive mindset was a necessity, which should be driven by coach Luke Beveridge.
“If you go out to be told ‘we’re the hunted’ and that’s what you hear about through the way the Bulldogs are speaking at the moment, then that needs to be reset from a Luke Beveridge point of view to becoming the hunter again,” Johnson said.
The Bulldogs’ forward line will have their hands full on Sunday, with the Blues boasting one of the most dynamic defensive groups in the game.
Johnson said it was crucial that the Dogs curtail Carlton’s transition from backline to forward line.
“Who will the Bulldogs put pressure on to restrict Carlton’s ball movement? Are they going to go to (Kade) Simpson or (Sam) Docherty … and become that hunter again on the opposition?” Johnson asked.
“That creates energy. That creates more numbers around the ball, which the Bulldogs like to then exit effectively.
“That’s what we haven’t seen I think so far consistently this year.
“There is still so much to go in terms of what they can do this year.”
Dual North Melbourne premiership defender David King this week questioned the Bulldogs’ decision to move the club’s successful coaching panel into different roles.
But Johnson played down speculation the drastic coaching changes were affecting on-field performances.
“That’s the nature of the way that clubs are these days, in terms of opportunity for different people,” Johnson said.
“You’ve got to reward different individuals as well in coaching structures, like Ash Hansen at VFL level winning a flag gets the promotion to AFL to see how he goes about it.
“In some ways, it may have an effect in terms of the access that certain individuals had to players last year that don’t this year, but I don’t think that’s had a huge say.”