St Kilda's head of football Simon Lethlean has revealed the club has altered their internal expectations after winning just one of their opening nine games.
Saints president Peter Summers maintained on SEN’s Crunch Time that their list has the potential of being a top four contender despite the poor start to the season.
However, Lethlean acknowledges the pre-season expectations have been amended due to the teams “unacceptable” performances.
“I think they (the expectations) have to be,” he told SEN’s Time On.
“Our expectations going in were to contend for the eight, but as we sit not far from half way, we’re a long way out of that conversation so we have to adjust those expectations to now seek to improve from here.
“It’s hard to quantify where you’re at until the full piece of work is done at Round 23.
“We’ll know a lot more then based on our wins and losses to whether we do have the right players and whether we do need to look further and wider, or whether what we do have here is not far off and we’ve got some changes to make to improve from there.
“It’s hard at Round 9 but right now the expectations aren’t being fulfilled, our football has been unacceptable based on the expectations and there’s a lot of work to do.”
The former AFL football operations manager has pointed the finger fair and square at the playing group, saying not enough players have stepped up to fill the void left by some of the retired greats.
“Too much is being left to too few at the moment,” Lethlean said
“It was certainly identified at the end of last year when Leigh Montagna, Nick Riewoldt and Sean Dempster moved on that there was going to need to be an uplift in leadership and input from the lower categories of players who have played 30-50 games.
“Jimmy Webster and Luke Dunstan are doing their bit...it can’t all be left to Jack Steven, Jake Carlisle and a few other leaders like Seb Ross and Jarryn Geary.”
Lethlean also backed under pressure coach Alan Richardson to turn things around and has praised his ability to maintain a positive outlook in the face of external pressure from disgruntled Saints fans.
“Alan’s a pretty measured guy who’s very competitive and also very caring about his playing group,” he said.
“I’m sure he is having his own difficulties while we are performing the way we are, but he has remained really positive.
“He works closely with our coaching group to find new ways to energise and keep the playing group positive and inspired.
“I think Alan’s doing a very good job in leading that mentality and staying really positive. I hope for his sake it starts with a win this week and we can start putting our support around him with some wins.”
Listen to Simon Lethlean's chat with Sam McClure in the player below