Why Western United’s first season will be more successful than Melbourne Heart’s

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The A-League welcomed Western United, their third Victorian-based team in the 2019/20 A-League season, with the unknown surrounding their potential success.

But after four rounds, they’ve settled into the competition quite nicely, sitting in fourth spot.

The reception from their Victorian counterparts would always be a talking point and so far you’d have to give them a pass. An 85th minute goal denied United a respectable draw with City at home, before they turned it around against the Victory a week later, defeating the home side 3-2 despite trailing 2-0 after just 10 minutes.

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Western’s success – even if it has only been four rounds – should prove to kick-start a season that will beat that of Melbourne Heart’s first season.

Table positioning

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I am all for a comparison, and what better way to start by comparing the first four rounds of each team. Western currently have two wins and a draw on the table, whereas Heart were sitting with two draws and two losses to begin their inaugural season.

Heart could have potentially drawn both their losses, going down by a goal in both. But they didn’t, leaving the winless in the first four rounds, while Western have two under their belts.

Whilst Heart’s two draws provided promise, you’d much rather be in Westerns position and have the W’s on the ladder; they are what’s going to make the difference come the end of the season. 

The coach

Mark Rudan was appointed as Western’s first coach bringing with him an extensive list of accolades.

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He has A-League experience, coaching Wellington to one of their best seasons in their history in 2018/19.

He also has to be credited for the personnel he brought over with him, including experienced players Andrew Durante and Max Burgess.

The initial coach at the Heart, John van ’t Schip had experiences of a different kind.

After an exceptional playing career with Ajax and Genoa that spanned 380 matches, van ’t Schip brought experience through his assistant coaching stints at both Ajax and the Netherlands national side.

He took the Heart to finals in just their second season, and while leaving after two seasons for personal reasons, it helped set Heart up to be competitive in the future.

I can’t see any reason why Rudan can’t do the same, if not better. He’s established positive relationships with players and coaching staff, creating a strong foundation for the new club and if they can produce more brilliant results, there’s no telling how far Rudan can take this side this season.

Transfers in:

United welcomed 15 players from rival A-League sides, while Heart were able to pick up nine.

On paper, Western’s side looks far better, with their A-League transfers alone being accustomed with the style of the A-League as well as knowing the ins and outs of their weekly opponents. Then add to the mix the seven players whose previous club experience was abroad, one being captain Alessandro Diamanti.

Despite little time spent together as a full squad, Western carry a sense of professionalism together and the ability to fight back when looking in doubt, with the perfect example being their win against Victory last week.

As for the Heart, nine A-League players were better than none with three of them transferring from the previous year’s champions, Sydney FC.

They had six players whose immediate previous club was abroad, with five of them being of benefit as only Dean Heffernan failed to play the entirety of the first season.

Big name recruit John Aloisi top-scored for the Heart with eight goals.

Besart Berisha already has two and with players like Scott McDonald and Diamanti also finding the back of the net early. Western’s spread of attack seems far more dangerous than that of the Heart back in 2010.

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Western will be more successful in their first season than Heart was.

They’ll finish higher than sixth, Rudan will last more than a season or two and they will attract the attention of even bigger names in off periods to come.

Mark my words.

Feature Image Credit: Western United

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Tricia Mifsud
Covering Melbourne Victory during the 2019/2020 season. Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sports Journalism) at Latrobe University. Dedicated to writing articles that sports fans want to read.