A-League: Mark Rudan tight-lipped over Wellington Phoenix future

Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan is keeping tight-lipped about his future, with the rumour mill in overdrive, linking him to the A-League's newest franchise.

Rudan is contracted to the NZ club until May 2020, but he's been linked with a move to Western United FC, which will enter the competition next season.

The Geelong-based team already have two players contracted, along with two assistant coaches, but they're on the hunt for a new manager and Rudan is widely tipped to get the vacant job.

On the eve of his current team's clash with Melbourne Victory in Auckland, the 43-year-old was bombarded with questions about his future, but refused to comment on where he'd be beyond this season.

"I respect your questions," he explained. "I think I have spoken enough about it.

"There's enough dialogue going on between myself and the football club, and at the right time, we'll speak about that.

"Right now, it's about Eden Park... it's about the momentum we are building, the Auckland faithful are coming out to support us in large numbers and that's much more important.

"I respect the question and I hope you'll respect my side of things too as well."

Rudan has been very open about the role in Wellington, saying if he knew it was going to be this tough, he probably wouldn't have taken the job.

One thing he's struggled with is being away from his family, who are still in Sydney, but have been over to visit.

He's also spoken publicly about how he's determined to build a legacy, but he might not be able to do that in Wellington, as its future is uncertain.

The club have to meet specific targets to have their A-League license extended beyond the 2020/21 season.

With that in mind, Rudan might be better off moving somewhere he has more job security.

"I've got a personal situation I've got to resolve," he added. "I've got two teenage kids who need their dad around and dad needs them as well.

"I bought into this and we made a decision, and I've also said if I thought it was going to be this hard, I probably wouldn't have taken it on.

"At the same time, the club also understands that I want a proper project and I want to build on this, and I'm not going to sit back and rest on my laurels.

"If things have been done in the past continue that way, then I won't be here. They need to improve, everything needs to improve.

"I'm most horrible to my family. You can take that any way you want, but that's the start of it."

Phoenix defender Steven Taylor.
Phoenix defender Steven Taylor. Photo credit: Photosport

Experienced Phoenix defender Steven Taylor was asked if all the rumours about Rudan's future are hurting the club, but he sees things differently.

"All we care about are the games ahead, and let the media and outside write and talk about this stuff," he said.

"If anything, it says how well he's done this season and hopefully it keeps getting better.

"In the last 15 years, I've noticed back in Europe, when you're doing well as a team, there's speculation with players and the manager.

"It is healthy, so for me, it shows how well he's doing and players, we concentrate on what we've been doing all season."

Friday's match at Eden Park is set to attract more than 20,000 fans, with ticket sales forcing stadium officials to open more stands to the public.

More are expected to attend than the Blues Super Rugby opener against the Crusaders 24 hours later.

"Rugby is a religion here and we're fighting hard to get space," said Rudan. "Football deserves some respect after the season we're having and it can only get better.

"When you're doing well, people notice and they're happy to jump on the bandwagon - and we'll happily have them."

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