Western Sydney Wanderers coach Mark Rudan relishing the prospect of participating in his first ever Sydney Derby, as his side play host to eternal rivals Sydney FC on Saturday.
“I certainly am [excited]. I was quite envious because the Wanderers weren’t around when I was playing, and to see that as a fan and a lover of the game was sensational over the years. And now you get to participate in it or be part of it as a coach this time. I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure the players and the fan in particular are looking forward to it as well.”
The Wanderers have had to contend with the wet and wild weather that has smashed much of the state this week, but Rudan has been happy with the performance levels in training ahead of the big game.
“The weather’s not good, but we still got the session’s in… they [the pitches] weren’t looking too good yesterday but they were today and we had a good session, a fantastic session actually.”
The club has already had the weather impact their season, with their game against the Wellington Phoenix postponed last Sunday due to the conditions. Rudan says this has allowed some of the players carrying injuries to get crucial training and minutes in the legs, though the likes of Jack Rodwell are no certainties in participating on Saturday night.
“They’re touch and go for the derby still, they’re touch and go. I think it’s been great to ease up on them, let them freshen up. We still got a game in as we do, the game that was planned a day after was still on and we still got some match minutes for those who needed it.”
The Wanderers come into this match off the back of two straight defeats, however Rudan insists that their performances have been vastly improved than the results suggest, especially when compared to the performances under the previous manager.
“People can say ‘you’ve lost’, but it’s the manner in which you lose as far as I’m concerned. No one wants to lose – I certainly don’t like to lose – but if you watch the performances, they’re games that we should have got something out of.
“The manner in the way we lost is very very different to the manner to which they lost before I got here, in particular that Brisbane game, and that’s something that I won’t be happy with if I ever see that again, because for me the attitude’s always gotta be important.”
Their opponents aren’t in the greatest nick either, only winning two of their last 10 matches; Rudan though is ensuring that much of the focus remains on his own team and what they can do to achieve victory in the match.
“My focus isn’t too much on the opposition since I’ve been here, it’s more been about what we can do and how we can improve ourselves, from our standards day-to-day to the environment that’s created to being the best that we can and looking to improve everyday. That’s where my main focus has been on, not so much on the opposition and where they’re at.
“We know that Sydney’s a good side and they’ve shown that over the last few years as well, so we know it’s going to be a tough encounter but one that we’re very much looking forward to, and we’ve been looking at the videos and we’ve found ways we believe we can break them down and do well.”
Rudan has been at the helm of the Wanderers for a month now, and whilst he believes there has been improvements in all aspects of the squad in that time, he is under no illusions that there is still much room for improvement.
“I think we’ve improved everywhere since I’ve got in, and I think we need to improve everywhere going forward.
” I think we’ve become a better unit, we’re much more structured, I think our patterns of play… from the day that I got here have improved. On the flip side I think we still have a long way to go. The behaviours and habits are a big thing for me, setting high standards at this football club is big as well, and the day-to-day professionalism that is expected from everyone at the football club is one that is going to change and has changed as well, the players have noticed that. But we’ve got a long way to go.”