A-League: Mark Rudan hopes Phoenix foundations maintained under new coach

Outgoing Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan has pleaded with his replacement to carry on the club values he has helped develop.

On Wednesday, Rudan confirmed he was heading back to Australia at the end of the season, revealing he was struggling to live without his family.

The 43-year-old has overseen 10 wins and seven draws in 27 games this season, with the club poised for a top-four finish, after already guaranteeing playoff football.

That marks a dramatic turnaround from the previous three seasons that had produced just 20 wins in total.

Rudan has implemented a tougher, more professional mentality at the club, driven by senior players Andrew Durante, Steven Taylor and David Williams.

Both Durante and Taylor will return under a new coach next season, and although Williams is yet to commit to a second year in Wellington, he has indicated he would like to remain in the capital.

Rudan hopes that whoever club management recruits as his successor will steer away from making drastic changes.

"There are some things that I have introduced that I really hope the club will carry through," Rudan said.

"The culture is a big one - the environment and mentality of this football club has changed. 

Mark Rudan is hoping to make club history in 2019.
Mark Rudan is hoping to make club history in 2019. Photo credit: Photosport

"You have some really good leaders here and there are some good people that'll be here next year to continue what we started."

And despite his personal reasons for leaving, Rudan confirmed that he was open to returning, if wanted, when his children were a little older.

"In the future, if this club wants me back, I would be here in a heartbeat. If my kids were older to the point that I could kick them out of home [laughs] and they were independent, then it would be okay."

The Australian has commended the club's front office for the commitment to maintaining a professional football side in New Zealand. The Phoenix are under strict guidelines to maintain their licence past the 2020 season.

Rudan has scoffed at any suggestion his current club will be cut in favour of another Australian franchise.

After spending almost 12 months with the club, Rudan believes it offers so much more than just television ratings and has told the A-League to 'lay off'.

"This club has a huge future and a long future," Rudan said. "Great people at this club are invested for the long haul. 

"They understand the game and they want to be here for a long time. It could have been so easy through the years, given all the ups and down the club has faced, to just pack up and walk away. 

"This club has been through a lot of adversity, and I think they have come through the other side with grace and class. 

"My message to the FFA is that I have lived and breathed this club, both inside and out - this club is not going anywhere and they add so much to the league. 

"There are many other clubs in a far worse position right now than the Phoenix."

For now, Rudan is focused on guiding the Phoenix to a first A-League title. The club sits in fifth place, one point behind Adelaide United, with two games to play.

The Phoenix can leapfrog Adelaide, if they win against Melbourne City on Sunday and the South Australia side lose at Melbourne Victory.


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