Five Wellington Phoenix players who have been reinvigorated under Mark Rudan

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The effect Mark Rudan has had on the Wellington Phoenix cannot be understated.

When Rudan arrived, the club looked, and was, on death row.

But with the former Sydney United 58 taskmaster, and the way he’s transformed the club, they’re a real force in the league once more.

Key to that has been getting the best out of players that simply weren’t seen as very good. So, here are five players who have been reinvigorated by Mark Rudan.

5. Andrew Durante

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During the Darjie disaster of the 2017/18 A-League season, Wellington’s defence was pathetic.

And part of that pathetic defence was Phoenix captain and A-League appearance record-holder, Andrew Durante. So when Rudan initiated his Phoenix rebuild, many were saying it was time for Durante to go, and almost everyone was expecting Durante to be relegated to a bench role.

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But that hasn’t happened.

Instead, the 36-year-old remains at the top of his game as one of the league’s best defenders, despite his age. He’s started every game this season for the Nix, with the exception of the 3-0 defeat to Perth where he was suspended. He’s winning almost 50% of his duels and tackles, and has made a total of 77 clearances, 17 blocks, and 33 interceptions.

Though the Phoenix legend has said that he will retire at the end of the season, with the way he’s going, there’s a definite chance that Durante could play on for another season.

4. Roy Krishna

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For so long, Roy Krishna has been the man that the Wellington Phoenix have turned to score the goals.

And under Darjie Kalezic, his goals dried up.

But despite the fact he isn’t getting any younger, Krishna is now having the best season and is in the best form of his life.

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After 20 rounds, he has scored 12 goals, equalling his best ever return for the Nix, and he’s well in the race for both the golden boot and the Johnny Warren Medal.

Oh, and he became the Phoenix’s all-time leading top goal scorer this season.

3. Louis Fenton

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Before this season, all of Louis Fenton’s potential seemed to have gone down the drain.

The man who marked his debut by scoring a spectacular diving header when he was just 18 has struggled with injuries for practically all his career. Fenton’s career had nose-dived so much that he did not even make it into Darjie Kalezic’s squad for the 2017-18 A-League season, and played first at Team Wellington in the NZ premiership before joining the Melbourne Knights in the NPL.

But when Mark Rudan assembled his squad for the 2018/19 A-League season, Fenton was offered a trial, and he impressed enough to get himself back on the Nix’s books.

He has become a formidable presence as a right wing-back, scoring and assisting twice, as well as making 14 key passes.

And he’s remained fit throughout the entire season.

2. Alex Rufer

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Alex Rufer’s rise has been one of the feel-good stories of this A-League. Rufer, a man who just could not, could not, get into the first team, spent his career either on the bench or completely out of the first team.

With his contract up at the end of last season, Rufer was on trial in Switzerland before a phone call from Mark Rudan came.

That call led to Rufer trialling with the Phoenix, and he has found himself a key player in the centre of the park, pairing with Spanish import Mandi. Rufer has made a total of 17 key passes so far, and has a 78% pass completion rate. With a guaranteed berth in the starting XI week in, week out, Rufer has finally realised his potential under Mark Rudan.

1. David Williams

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There was little hype when David Williams arrived in Wellington. Phoenix fans saw him as another one of “those” signings, where an Aussie journeyman comes to Wellington for a year, sits on the bench, makes little impact, then leaves.

But Williams has been a revelation. He’s become Krishna’s partner as striker, and when Krishna doesn’t score, it’s almost always Williams who picks up the slack, with the Australian hitting six so far this season.

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In fact, as of the Round 20 Sydney game, 12 of the last 13 Nix goals have been scored by either Krishna or Williams.

With a position in the XI each week, Williams headlines the list of players who have had their careers revitalised by Mark Rudan.

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Dan Moskovitz
Dan Moskovitz
The Football Sack's resident teen kiwi football nut. Loves everything football except defeats.

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