It can’t be easy for a Western Bulldogs supporter in 2019.
The ‘Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde’ nature of their opening 10 games has to be exhausting.
The Doggies sit 13th on the ladder with a win-loss record of 4-6 and percentage of 94. Only an erratic mixing of form has denied Luke Beveridge’s men a better position.
There were high hopes from critics and commentators from all corners prior to the season, and that was partially vindicated after they were solid in defeating Sydney by 17 points to open their season.
Their Round 2 win over Hawthorn came courtesy of a nine-goal final term, somewhat out of the blue, after they had kicked just seven in the other three quarters. This was the first showing of their unpredictability.
But their Round 3 result, when beaten by Gold Coast, was to begin a frustrating and potentially worrying trend. They were flat, wasted opportunities and gave the Suns too much of an advantage.
The next weekend, they took a defensive game plan into the Collingwood clash, and it worked well until the Magpies flexed their muscle late.
What next appeared on the agenda for the Dogs will, no doubt, end up being a season low - a 44-point loss at the hands of Carlton. It was a terrible performance.
The Dogs attempted to recoil from that disappointment in Round 6. After being in it all day, they conceded four of the last five goals, ending in defeat to Fremantle in Perth.
‘Jekyll’ was back with a bang in Round 7. The Dogs put Richmond to the sword with a stunning performance where they appeared world-beaters against a side who had won three on the trot.
That exceptional output was followed by a strong win over an in-form Brisbane in trying conditions in Ballarat.
The Round 9 trip down the highway wasn’t a bad Doggies display, by any stretch of the imagination, but it finished in disheartening fashion as Geelong kicked away late.
That, however, seemed to be enough for this topsy-turvy group for the time being.
Round 10 presented a fixture they really should have won.
North Melbourne, who had just learned they were about to lose Brad Scott as coach, rallied but 'Hyde' had reappeared in Beveridge's camp. It was an opportunity lost for the Doggies.
So far this season, they’ve knocked off two of last year’s top four, a perennial finals side and one that most were expecting to improve who currently sit sixth.
Their losses have been to three of last season’s bottom five, a team who have struggled in 2019 as well as two who are flying.
Trying to solve this problem of fluctuating fortunes leads to a view of personnel.
Aaron Naughton is the central figure as key forward and Tim English the stand-alone ruckman. They are 19 and 21 respectively and have every right to be inconsistent.
Additionally, Zaine Cordy plays a key defensive role at the tender age of 22 and is bound to produce varied performances.
It provides a problem when consistency is integral to producing positive outcomes.
There aren’t too many Bulldogs players from whom you know exactly what you are going to get each and every week.
Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae and Caleb Daniel stand out and just behind them are Lachie Hunter, Hayden Crozier and Tom Liberatore. Honourable mention to Bailey Smith who has been immense in his first season.
For the majority of the rest, it’s a potential Molotov cocktail of form. It can ignite at any second and go off with a bang (Richmond win) or can be distinguished without much more than a flicker (Carlton and Gold Coast defeats).
Drilling down further, the Dogs have won just one of their 10 first quarters to rank 18th in the competition. That does not provide a sturdy platform to launch a victory from.
Things level out in the second and third, as they’ve won six and five respectively with positive differentials. However, it again falls away in the final term where they have the 16th best record, further highlighting the inconsistencies within games that have cruelled their 2019 results to date.
At best, finals are a distinct possibility. At worst, they will ebb and flow around the bottom five or six.
It is a head-scratching proposition.
But there is enough good there to outweigh the evil and only the gap between best and worst needs bridging for Dogs fans to feel at ease.