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The Ultimate Western Bulldogs Fan Guide for the 2024 Season

Despite boasting a formidable midfield led by superstar Marcus Bontempelli and supported by the relentless efforts of Tom Liberatore and Tim English, the Bulldogs fell short of securing a finals berth in the 2023 season, narrowly missing out on percentage.

With the talent at their disposal, including Bontempelli, Liberatore, and English, who were all deserving of All-Australian recognition, the Bulldogs had the ingredients for success. Their midfield prowess, highlighted by their ability to generate clearances, ranked among the best in the league, underscoring their competitiveness on the field.

However, despite their midfield dominance, the Bulldogs struggled to capitalise on their strengths. Midfield depth, while advantageous, also posed challenges, as players like Bailey Smith and Jack Macrae found themselves under-utilised in their preferred positions. Smith, in particular, appeared lost at times, leading to speculation about his future at the club, with potential interest from other teams like Hawthorn and Geelong.

Additionally, Adam Treloar’s experimentation in different roles, including stints at half-back, did not yield the expected results, further highlighting the Bulldogs’ struggles to optimise their midfield resources effectively. As a result, despite their midfield talent, the Bulldogs failed to translate their dominance into tangible results on the field, ultimately falling short of their expectations for the season.Don’t miss any of the action in the 2024 AFL season. Secure your Western Bulldogs 2024 tickets right here.

The AFL legend that is, Marcus Bontempelli

In the Western Bulldogs lineup, one player stands out above the rest: Marcus Bontempelli. As the team’s captain for the third consecutive year, Bontempelli has consistently demonstrated his exceptional quality on the field. His performances throughout the season have solidified his status as a Brownlow Medal favourite, showcasing his dominance in various aspects of the game.

Bontempelli’s statistics speak volumes about his impact on the field. With averages of 7.5 tackles and 7.6 clearances per game, he has proven to be a problematic force both defensively and offensively. His ability to win the ball in contested situations and then distribute it effectively highlights his versatility and importance to the team.

Bontempelli’s skillful ball use and goal-scoring prowess have been consistent highlights in what was an otherwise disappointing season for the Western Bulldogs in 2023. His ability to impact the game in multiple ways, coupled with his leadership as the team captain, makes him an invaluable asset and undoubtedly the Bulldogs’ best player.

The Western Bulldogs possess many strengths 

Firstly, their list is packed with talent across all lines. Led by Bontempelli, they boast a star-studded midfield consisting of Tom Liberatore, Jack Macrae, and Adam Treloar. Additionally, they have Tim English, an All-Australian ruckman, and quality players like Caleb Daniel, Bailey Dale, and Jason Johannisen. Their forward line showcases promising young talents in Aaron Naughton and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, along with the dynamic Cody Weightman.

This abundance of talent translates into on-field success, as demonstrated by their impressive statistics from the previous season. The Bulldogs ranked highly in key performance indicators such as clearances, contested possessions, inside 50s, and disposals. Their strong defence, anchored by their midfield stars and supported by towering forwards like Naughton and Ugle-Hagan, also contributed to their success.

Furthermore, the Bulldogs continue to invest in young talent, ensuring a bright future for the club. Players like Ryley Sanders and Jordan Croft show immense potential and add depth to their roster. With a relatively experienced squad, the Bulldogs are well-positioned to aim for a spot in the finals.

Despite their strengths, the Bulldogs have notable weaknesses that need addressing

Despite their midfield prowess, they struggle to convert opportunities into goals, ranking poorly in marks inside 50, scores per inside 50, and goals per inside 50. Their accuracy in front of goal is also a concern, with the third-worst accuracy rate in the league.

Defensively, the Bulldogs face challenges in their key defender stocks, with Liam Jones and Alex Keath aging and limited options beyond them. Additionally, their ruck department lacks depth, relying heavily on Tim English and makeshift options like Rory Lobb and Sam Darcy.

Furthermore, the Bulldogs have shown a tendency to underperform in crucial games, as evidenced by losses to lower-ranked teams like Hawthorn and West Coast in the latter stages of the season. These inconsistent performances raise questions about the team’s mindset and their ability to capitalise on their talent.

The Western Bulldogs’ season in 2023: Promise and disappointment

Despite boasting a talented roster and an impressive midfield, the Bulldogs fell short of their expectations by narrowly missing out on a finals berth. The team’s strengths, particularly in midfield dominance led by Marcus Bontempelli, were evident throughout the season. However, their struggles in converting opportunities in the forward line and inconsistency in crucial games were significant weaknesses that hindered their progress.

Looking ahead, the Bulldogs have exciting prospects to watch, with Jamarra Ugle-Hagan emerging as a standout forward poised for a breakout season. However, players like Rory Lobb (who is likely now in the VFL forever) face pressure to perform and assert themselves more effectively in the team’s structure.

As for their best 22 lineups, the Bulldogs have a solid core of players, including key figures like Bontempelli, Liberatore, and Macrae. New recruits like Ryley Sanders and Nick Coffield have the potential to make significant contributions if they can overcome injury concerns. With Bailey Smith sidelined due to injury, opportunities arise for emerging talents to stake their claim in the team.

The Western Bulldogs 2024 AFL season

External expectations vary widely for the Bulldogs, reflecting the team’s mixed fortunes in the previous year. Despite starting the 2023 season strongly and boasting a talented roster, the Bulldogs faltered when it mattered most, suffering crucial losses to teams at the bottom of the ladder. These defeats ultimately dashed their hopes of a finals berth and left them with a bitter taste as they watched the September action unfold from the sidelines.

Adding to the challenges, the Bulldogs were dealt a significant blow with Bailey Smith’s season-ending ACL injury, creating a void in the team that would need to be filled adequately. However, they made strategic moves during the off-season to bolster their squad, acquiring experienced players like James Harmes and Nick Coffield to help offset the loss of Smith. Additionally, they welcomed promising young talent through the national draft and the pre-season supplemental selection period.

Amidst these changes, there are lingering questions surrounding the coaching future of Luke Beveridge, which could potentially impact the team’s performance and dynamics throughout the season. The delicate nature of this situation adds another layer of uncertainty to the Bulldogs’ 2024 campaign, as they navigate both on-field challenges and off-field considerations. How they address these issues will play a crucial role in shaping their fortunes and determining their position on the ladder by the end of the season.

The Western Bulldogs find themselves at a crossroads so far in 2024

After a disappointing start to the 2024 AFL season, discussions about the Bulldog’s trajectory for the rest of the year and beyond are on. With a 2-3 record after a 29-point loss to Essendon in round five, questions abound regarding their status as flag contenders, rebuilders, or something in between.

Pressure on head coach Luke Beveridge continues to mount, with doubts emerging about the team’s premiership aspirations under his leadership. Despite offseason efforts to bolster the squad and remove obstacles to success, the Bulldogs have struggled to find their rhythm on the field, raising concerns about their competitiveness in the current season.

Chief among the issues facing the Bulldogs are significant list management blunders, including the signing of long-term contracts for key players like Jack Macrae, Bailey Dale, and Caleb Daniel. These contracts have tied up valuable salary cap space and created challenges for the club in terms of roster flexibility and planning for the future.

In response to these challenges, there are suggestions that the Bulldogs may need to rethink their approach and potentially transition to a new phase of team building. This could involve trading out some of their veteran players to make way for younger, faster talent that better fits the team’s evolving strategy and objectives.

One notable incident adding to the Bulldogs’ woes is the frustration displayed by young gun Ryley Sanders, who was visibly upset after being subbed out of the game for the second time in five weeks. While Sanders has shown promise, his reaction has raised eyebrows and prompted discussions about player attitude and discipline.

All eyes will be on how the Bulldogs respond to the mounting pressure and internal challenges. The outcome of this match may provide valuable insights into the team’s direction and the cohesion between players, coaches, and management. 

The Western Bulldogs’ premiership window may not be as firmly shut 

While head coach Luke Beveridge has faced scrutiny for his team selections and tactics, there are several reasons to believe that the Bulldogs still have the potential to present a serious challenge for the flag.

Firstly, despite significant turnover since their 2016 premiership triumph, a considerable portion of the squad that featured in the 2021 grand final remains at the club. This continuity provides a solid foundation upon which to build future success, with experienced players like Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore, and others still capable of driving the team forward.

The Bulldogs’ list demographic, with an average age of 24.8 and average games of 76.3, suggests they are well-positioned to compete at the highest level. Historically, successful premiership teams have often had similar age profiles, indicating that the Bulldogs are still in contention despite recent setbacks.

Additionally, the Bulldogs have demonstrated a commitment to nurturing young talent through strategic drafting and development pathways. Players like Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Sam Darcy, and Jordan Croft represent the next generation of Bulldogs stars, and their emergence bodes well for the club’s long-term prospects.

Beveridge’s willingness to blood young players and trust their ability to contribute suggests a forward-thinking approach aimed at sustained success rather than short-term fixes. While there may be growing pains associated with integrating inexperienced players into the senior side, the potential payoff in the form of future success is considerable.

Ultimately, while the Bulldogs may be facing challenges in the present, their focus on youth development and strategic list management indicates that their premiership window is far from closed. 

Where do you get Western Bulldogs 2024 AFL tickets?

The 2024 AFL season is off and racing, and so fa, it has been electric, with plenty of upsets to keep us on our toes. Queen of Tickets is your go-to resource for all AFL tickets – even the hard-to-find ones! Save this page to your favourites list, and you’ll never miss a game in the 2024 AFL season.

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