Experienced Richmond defender Brett Deledio says his faith in the development of the young Tigers' squad has not been shaken by the fact they have now lost six consecutive games.
Richmond are without a win since Round 13 and have rapidly slipped out of finals contention and down to 14th on the ladder after failing to back-up their positive form from earlier in the season.
The 2011 campaign stands in stark contrast to the one last year, where the Tigers started horribly but were able to build some momentum and hope for their long-suffering fans in the second half of 2010.
But Deledio, one of only five current Tigers to have played more than 100 games, still feels his developing team has taken considerable steps from last year.
"There's been some challenging times, there's no doubt about it but I firmly believe we are still headed in the right direction," he said.
"We've still got a lot a very young list and we've got a lot of games into our young players, so we are definitely heading in the right direction. But it is still a long road ahead."
"Despite what people and what the media say, we've definitely made ground. We're starting to see some good signs from our younger players."
Having played 146 games for the Tigers, Deledio knows the Tigers fans have waited a long time for a revival having made the finals just twice since 1982.
He said the desire for success had made the expectations on the young side somewhat unrealistic in 2011.
"Us as a group and our supporters got our hopes up a little too early with the wins we had. We are at where we are expected to be at and we'll see a lot of improvement the last part of this year and next year," he said.
Deledio expects Daniel Jackson to be fit to play against Sydney on Sunday despite suffering an ankle injury, while he has rubbished suggestions that reigning Coleman Medallist Jack Riewoldt is out of form or unfit.
"He's equal in the Coleman Medal. As much as he's copping, I don't think he is unfit, He's doing everything he can to make sure he is playing his role for the side," he said.
"A big bag is just around the corner for him, he's been kicking threes and fours. It won't be long before we see Jack come out and take a hanger."