The Demons will look to redeem themselves in 2024 after a second consecutive straight sets finals exit. (Image: Melbourne FC)

The Demons will look to redeem themselves in 2024 after a second consecutive straight sets finals exit. (Image: Melbourne FC)

A team that is full of brilliant names and plenty of potential, the Demons will want to bounce back from another disappointing finals finish and go deeper into September in 2024.

2023 Overview

Melbourne had a horror ending in 2023, where they were beaten by the Pies, and bundled out by the Blues. They kicked 16 goals and 28 behinds across those two finals matches, a troubling statistic when you consider the narrow margins they were defeated by in the end. The team had plenty of opportunities to score but they just couldn’t get the ball through the big sticks enough.

The Demons had potential to finish the season as premiers again, but it was a title that couldn’t be claimed in the end. Losing in straight sets for a second consecutive season was nothing short of another failed year and in hindsight, this could be attributed to a variety of factors. There have been plenty of struggles on and off the field, and the ball-club will be hoping to leave these behind ahead of the 2024 season.

Off-Season Changes

In: Jack Billings (trade, St Kilda), Kynan Brown (Rookie Draft, father-son), Tom Fullarton (trade, Brisbane), Marty Hore (SSP, Williamstown VFL), Shane McAdam (trade, Adelaide), Koltyn Tholstrup (No.13 draft pick), Caleb Windsor (No.7 draft pick)

Out: Luke Dunstan (retired), Brodie Grundy (trade, Sydney), James Harmes (trade, Western Bulldogs), Michael Hibberd (retired), James Jordon (free agent, Sydney), Deakyn Smith (delisted), Kye Turner (delisted)

The Demons lose plenty of solid experience through trade with Brodie Grundy and James Jordon heading to the Swans, as well as James Harmes moving to the Western Bulldogs, and Luke Dunstan and Michael Hibberd calling time on their respective careers.

However, they did some nice work in the trade and draft periods to replenish their stocks bringing in Jack Billings from the Saints and Shane McAdam from the Crows, along with former Lion Tom Fullarton who will be a solid young backup to Max Gawn.

Draftees Caleb Windsor and Koltyn Tholstrup also look very exciting and will surely contribute throughout the year for the Dees.

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Opening round: Sydney, Thursday 7 March, 7:30pm SCG

Round 1: v Western Bulldogs, Sunday 17 March, 1:00pm MCG

Round 2: v Hawthorn, Saturday 23 March, 4:35pm MCG

Round 3: v Port Adelaide, Saturday 30 March, 7:00pm Adelaide Oval

Round 4: v Adelaide, Thursday 4 April, 7:10pm Adelaide Oval (Gather Round)

Round 5: v Brisbane, Thursday 11 April, 7:30pm MCG

Round 6: BYE

Round 7: v Richmond, Wednesday 24 April, 7:25pm MCG (ANZAC Day)

Round 8: v Geelong, Saturday 4 May, 7:30pm MCG

Round 9: v Carlton, Thursday 9 May, 7:30pm MCG

Round 10: v West Coast, Sunday 19 May, 4:20pm Optus Stadium

Round 11: v St Kilda, Sunday 26 May, 3:20pm MCG

Round 12: v Fremantle, Sunday 2 June, 12:30pm TIO Traeger Park

Round 13: v Collingwood, Monday 10 June, 4:20pm MCG (King’s birthday)

Round 14: BYE

Round 15: v North Melbourne, Saturday 22 June, 7:30pm MCG

Round 16: v Brisbane, TBC, Gabba

Round 17: v West Coast, TBC, MCG

Round 18: v Essendon, TBC, MCG

Round 19: v Fremantle, TBC, Optus Stadium

Round 20: v GWS, TBC, MCG

Round 21: v Western Bulldogs, TBC, Marvel Stadium

Round 22: v Port Adelaide, TBC, MCG

Round 23: v Gold Coast, TBC, Heritage Bank Stadium

Round 24: v Collingwood, TBC, MCG

Looking at 2024

The Demons will have another rough year in the spotlight, especially when it comes to star midfielder Clayton Oliver. His rocky 2023 campaign may carry over, although he looks fit heading into 2024.

When he was playing last season, Melbourne looked like a completely different team in the best way possible. The side is much more dynamic with him on the ball, and his pairing with Christian Petracca will keep causing headaches for any opposition when given the chance.

The Demons will definitely need to establish a proper goal kicking presence – an area that cops plenty of criticism. A player rising to the occasion and becoming that main target in the forward line will be crucial if they want to return to those heights of three years ago.

Bayley Fritsch could be the perfect candidate. He’s able to have great impact in the forward 50, averaging 2.2 goals per game with an injury stopping him in his tracks for a small period of time last season. Fritsch needs to stay healthy and attempt to bump that average up to give the Demons the best possible chance at success.

Prediction: 6th

It could be a much tougher year for the 2021 premiers, but if they can stay fit and maintain a solid structure with what they have at their disposal, they will easily keep their position in the Top 8.

Oliver staying fit will be huge as he improves their side drastically, while the same can be said for keeping captain Max Gawn fit and firing for 23 games.

Ultimately, the list still has plenty of quality and they should be able to hold strong and play enough good footy to end the season with a finish between 5th and 8th place on the ladder.

Finals will be a different story though. We’ll have to wait and see whether they can rectify their four previous losses and become genuine contenders once again.

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