‘There’s a lot more progression and improvement’: Rudan predicts more from in-form Phoenix
They’ve been one of the stories of the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season, on a club-record unbeaten run and emerging as genuine finals contenders.
It’s been a brilliant first half of the season for Wellington Phoenix, with rookie coach Mark Rudan a central part of the club’s astonishing revolution.
WATCH FOR FREE: How to watch the Hyundai A-League LIVE and FREE
HOW TO WATCH: Every game from the midweek Round 15
TALKING POINTS: Victory show mark of Champions in Hyundai A-League game of the season
HEROIC MOMENTS: Relentless Roy masters the art of all-round forward display
There was plenty of work to do when Rudan walked through the doors of the club after his appointment back in May last year.
“Physically we needed to improve from where we were last year and I’m a big believer in making sure that throughout the course of the season, particularly with the amount of travel we have to endure, that we’re able to get through those moments and recover quicker,” Rudan explained to www.a-league.com.au.
“When you are fitter you recover quicker as well and we worked a lot on not just the physical side of things but tactical, technical and mental was another big one as well.
“It’s changing the mindset and the mentality of the playing group and now you are starting to see some of the rewards from that.”
While Wellington are on a fantastic nine-game unbeaten streak, things didn’t go to plan immediately for the new boss.
Despite picking up a win and draw in the first two games, Phoenix lost their next three against Western Sydney Wanderers, Melbourne City and Adelaide United to leave plenty of questions marks after the opening five rounds of the season.
“There was always going to be a bit of a hiccup along the way, what I call growing pains. It’s only normal,” Rudan said.
“Then we progressed and changed which was always the plan.
“However, I brought it forward a bit because of the three losses in a row and as you have seen since then we have yet to lose.”
Matching it with the best
A feature of Wellington’s history-making run of form has been their results – and performances – against the Hyundai A-League’s elite.
Perth Glory, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC have been the pace-setters so far this campaign but none of them have been able to beat the Phoenix so far in 2018/19.
While there’s still a long way to go in the regular season, it’s that impressive record Rudan believes will give his squad a boost heading towards the business end of the campaign.
“We’ve beaten Sydney, we led against Perth and against Victory as well and we gave them a tough time, we could have easily won both of those games as well,” Rudan said.
“There’s a lot of confidence and belief now on the back of those performances against those teams that the players can take and look forward to for the rest of the season.”
Hear more from Rudan’s EXCLUSIVE chat with www.a-league.com.au in the video player above.