Magpies have plenty to offer, says Knobel

DOWNHILL skier.

There’s few, if any, dirtier terms to throw at a footballer than the one mentioned above and while he doesn’t agree, Wangaratta coach Mark Knobel is fully aware it’s been bandied about in relation to his side.

The Magpies have been one of the Ovens and Murray’s best attacking teams over the past few seasons, however, their defensive habits have often left a lot to be desired.

It’s essentially been the difference between Wangaratta being a good side and a great one.

Knobel thinks the Pies can play finals this season but knows improving their work without the ball will play a big part in whether or not they do.

“We need to work better defensively,” he said.

“The two-way stuff.

“Our attacking movement has been OK but it’s about the boys understanding to play defence, as well.

“They’ve been so intent on trying to win the footy and work hard forward that it’s probably opened up a few defensive aspects.

“But the boys have been excellent and always done everything we’ve asked them to do.”

Knobel, who is entering his second year at the Pies’ helm, said there would be slight structural changes to the way the Magpies’ line up this year to reflect that defensive mind-set.

But he won’t be re-inventing the wheel.

“There won’t be presses, zones, floods or anything like that, but just a few little things that will help us play accountable footy,” Knobel said.

“We want to improve this year and win more games.

“We lost six games by under three goals last year.

“You win those and you put yourself in a position to be playing finals, which is what we want to be doing.”

The Pies hold an element of unpredictability heading into the season, with a couple of top-liners leaving Norm Minns Oval over the summer and others arriving.

Wangaratta often fielded teams last season littered with teenagers but Knobel assured that wouldn’t happen again.

“We’ve picked up a few in that 25 to 30 bracket who bring a bit of experience and mature bodies,” he said.

“There was one game last year where we had 14 players who were 19 or younger.

“That won’t be the case this year.”

The Pies head off on a weekend camp to Lake Buffalo tonight.

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