Western United will have an assertive figure and powerful messaging coming from newly-appointed coach Mark Rudan when it takes to the field for its inaugural A-League season later this year.
Rudan will promote a no excuses mentality as he aims for the new club to gain the respect of the competition in season one.
“There will be challenging times,” Rudan said. “I’ve spoken to coaches and people who have been involved with new clubs and it is challenging.
“There’s going to be some bumps along the way, but I’m more than confident we’ll see those through.”
Rudan’s appointment at Western United was one of the worst kept secrets in the A-League.
Once his season with Wellington Phoenix was complete, it seemed only a matter of time before he was unveiled in the green and black.
The big announcement took place at United’s new headquarters at Palmers Gateway in Truganina on Thursday.
The backdrop to the press conference was sweeping views over Wyndham and the construction zones below signalled the rapid growth of the region.
All that was missing for Rudan was a hard hat because he is on the verge of a construction project of his own, building a team for the west from scratch.
“It was just an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up,” he said. “To be the inaugural coach of a brand new side is something genuinely excites me.
“To think that you’ve got a blank piece of paper that you can create what you want.”
Rudan has the experience on and off the field to see Western United through its formative years.
The 43-year-old had a playing career spanning almost two decades.
The centre back played professionally Asia, Europe and in the A-League, with Sydney FC and Adelaide United.
He is familiar with local set-ups, having coached at NPL level in New South Wales, including his boyhood team Sydney United.
Rudan proved his worth as an A-League coach with Wellington Phoenix last season.
He turned a Phoenix side that finished second-last in 2017-18 to a finals outfit this season.
Rudan will bring a strong personality to Western United.
On one hand, you will see Rudan as an assertive figure at the head of the club, while on the other hand, his beaming smile and approachable nature will endear him to the United fan base.
Above all, he is passionate for football.
United football director Steve Horvat and chief executive officer Maurice Bisetto went through an exhaustive interview process to find a coach, talking to applicants locally and abroad.
They are convinced Rudan is the right person for the job.
“We’re excited about announcing Mark Rudan as the man who will sit at the helm of Western United Football Club and lead this group of youthful talent and experience to success,” Bisetto said. “Mark’s job description was not just about coaching a playing group.
“As a brand new club, Mark will lead our vision, build our culture, grow our brand and start to create our history.”
Horvat added: “I look at how he turned Wellington Phoenix around last season. What stuck out to me was the culture he created amongst that playing group.”
Rudan understands what Western United aims to represent.
There was no second guessing his words when he talked about the west of Melbourne and what this club can be for the people from the inner west and as far out to Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong.
“Culture starts with people and players,” Rudan said. “Until we all actually all get together as a football club, and that includes the players, the players will have a big say on who we are and what we want to be on the football park.
“As far as where I’m concerned off the football park, understanding the demographic and how Melbourne is situated from the west side of the bridge all the way to Geelong, these are the people, they’re our fans, they’re the people we want to work for and want to entice and get them to our football ground.”
Rudan is excited to be working with a group of people at the head of Western United who are football people first and foremost.
There is a lot of business acumen on the board, but they have been brought together by their common passion for football and history in the game.
“They are proper football people,” Rudan said.
Rudan drew plaudits for the excitement his Wellington Phoenix team brought to the A-League last season.
The Phoenix had the third-best attack in the league with 46 goals at an average of 1.7 goals per game.
Rudan has promised more of the same direct style of play at Western United.
“I like to play a pretty dynamic brand of football,” Rudan said. “You won’t see too many balls going sideways.
“We are in the entertainment business and I like to play a certain brand of football the fans will enjoy and come back and watch more of.”
Rudan could not deny having some involvement in guiding Western United in the process of its player acquisitions, so he is delighted with the players at his disposal so far.
Some big names have already joined, including A-League goalkeeper of the year Filip Kurto, Greek international Panagiotis Kone and Socceroo Scott McDonald, but Rudan’s excitement does not end there.
“Every single player that’s been signed to the club, I’m excited to work with,” Rudan said. “You have a look at the youth, you have a look at the experience, you have a look at what they can bring and there’s so much upside to each individual.
“As a coach, I can’t wait to get started and work with these guys.”