It’s the pointy end of the season and the Demons find themselves in an unusual position.
Normally around this time of year, the Melbourne faithful are working out their September holiday plans.
But in 2016, finals are still very much a possibility for the Dees.
Shocking, isn’t it?
In the last few rounds, they have surged forward into ninth place, only two games and 3.7 percentage points behind eighth-place North Melbourne.
But there is still that gap, so a lot will have to go right for the Demons to gain a coveted finals berth.
Firstly, Melbourne need North to lose to Sydney in Hobart this week, and Greater Western Sydney at Etihad in Round 23 – both of which are definitely possible based on recent form.
But even if that does happen, the Demons need a substantial win against the Blues on Sunday and then a win at Geelong in the last round.
While it will be tricky, a chance is still a chance. But coach Paul Roos is trying to keep a lid on it.
“For us, it’s not even worth talking about,” Roos told Fox Sports. “We haven’t discussed [finals] at all.”
But defender Tom McDonald admits it’s nice to be in contention.
“As much as it is in our control, it isn’t in our control,” he said.
“We’re waiting on other teams to lose if we want make finals.
“It’s great just to be in the conversation from where we’ve come from, and being at the bottom of the ladder for a long time, to be around the mark is a real sign of improvement I think.”
So can the Dees do the unthinkable and make the eight? Honestly, probably not. There is certainly a lot that has to go right for them, starting this week against Carlton – a side they have only beaten once in the past five occasions.
“For this young group, everything’s an opportunity,” Roos said. “It’s great external noise (being a finals chance). It just means you’re playing some good footy.”
“But last time we played Carlton we got beaten, so that’s got to be our real focus.”
If they continue their form from the last few weeks, Melbourne will be a shoo-in to win. But if they turn up as the inconsistent Demons of old, then they can kiss their finals chances goodbye.
But regardless of how the remainder of the season plays out, the Demons have improved significantly this year.
(First published on The Roar on August 18th 2016)