Adelaide will enter 2024 with an expectation that it plays finals in its fifth season under Matthew Nicks, with the coach declaring he was sick of being a spectator in September and had a team that was ready to aim high.

The Crows have improved every season under Nicks but fell just short of finals in 2023 after a thrilling end to the season that included a heartbreaking goal line error against Sydney that cost the team a significant four points in Round 22.

Nicks said Adelaide had delivered on its goal of challenging the best teams in his fourth season, but it was time for the club to do more as it fights for its first finals appearance since 2017.  

"We said we were going to come in and challenge the best. We did that. We've got to aim high now," Nicks told

"So we want to do more than challenge the best this year. There's an expectation on us to perform and play finals footy. We want to embrace that expectation and aim for it, and some.

"We don't want to finish up in August. You get sick of watching finals footy … as do our players the longer they're in the game. So we'll embrace the expectation."

With expectation comes pressure, and Nicks said he had noted the battle Fremantle faced in 2023 to back up its breakthrough finals appearance the year prior, eventually slipping to finish 14th in a 10-win season.

Preparing his players to handle the pressure of expectation had been a focus for the coach as things like game style and player roles become more ingrained and require less teaching.

"If you haven't felt that sort of pressure as a young group it becomes really tough and it's not until you go through that that you know you're able to realise what it takes, so we've got that challenge coming this year," Nicks said.

"(Last year) the expectation rose, and we didn't live up to that in a few games, so we've done a lot of work in that space this year.

"There's a lot less Xs and Os now as we're becoming a slightly more mature group and we're more connected and a lot more around that cohesion and game awareness.

"The ability to sort of break your foes, the ability to lead others, to organise and instruct the group, that's where we spend a lot of time."

Nicks is entering the final season of a contract extension he signed late in 2021, with Chief Executive Tim Silvers engaged in positive discussions about a new deal for the coach, but without a timeline to have them finalised.

The coach said he was "very comfortable" with the status of those talks and the approach being taken. 

"We've worked our way through four years of a pretty tough period, but we haven't skipped a beat as far as sticking together, and that trust has stayed strong," Nicks said.   

"There's no rush, there's no timeline on that."