Collingwood are carrying too many passengers and it’s costing them dearly, defender Jeremy Howe says.
The Magpies slumped to a 1-3 record on Sunday, going down to St Kilda by 14 points in a scrappy AFL contest at Etihad Stadium.
It was an uninspired showing from Nathan Buckley’s side, whose pressure around the ball was well down on previous weeks.
Skills were also an issue for the Pies, who struggled to hit targets for most of the game.
“We just can’t seem to kick straight at the moment,” Howe told AAP.
“It’s not just that. Our effort fluctuated. As a team, we’ve got blokes that aren’t performing for four quarters.
“They might perform for two quarters and then die out of the game. We’ve got too many blokes like that at the moment and it’s costing us.”
Howe’s blunt assessment followed a post-game briefing in which Buckley challenged his side over their inconsistent workrate.
After an even first half, the Saints dominated the third quarter, out-tackling the Pies 22-13 and having twice as many inside-50s.
Collingwood lifted in the final term but left it far too late to salvage a win, and with Buckley under pressure to save his job, they sit 13th on the ladder.
Midfield recruit Daniel Wells has been declared fit and will be considered for the traditional Anzac Day game against Essendon.
The MCG blockbuster typically attracts a massive crowd, and Howe was hopeful it could provide a spark for the Pies.
“I think a lot of people are going to find it a lot easier to be up and about for Anzac Day,” he said.
“Just the whole atmosphere in general keeps you in the game consistently enough, but we can’t draw on big games just like that to be able to play our best footy.
“We’re not going to be playing in front of 90,000 every week so we’ll go back and have a look at a few things. There were some positives but it’s just our consistency at the moment, that’s killing us.”
The high-flying Howe was one of Collingwood’s best against St Kilda, taking 10 grabs – including a mark of the year contender in the third quarter – and seeing off plenty of the Saints’ forward entries.
But converting those intercepts into attacking forays remains a work in progress for the Magpies.
“I watched Adelaide last night and almost every time they marked the ball in defensive-50, they scored,” Howe said.
“They’re probably a good side to have a look at and see what they’re doing because at the moment, they’re one of the teams to beat, for sure.”