Burgess earns spot in starting XI

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At the A-League’s newest club Western United, where the majority of their squad is made up of veterans, finding your place as a young player can sometimes have disastrous consequences.

However, United’s young guns are going against the grain and are doing just as well as their more experienced counterparts. Take a look at Max Burgess and see if you can disagree.

United’s win against the Central Coast Mariners was secured in 25 minutes on Sunday, but Burgess’ performance was the most outstanding part of the match.

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Sentiments that were echoed by United’s coach Mark Rudan.

“He was the star attraction, he was fantastic,” he said.

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“It was good for him to finally play with the air of confidence I know someone with Max’s calibre can play.”

Burgess has become a key component of Rudan’s squad, beginning the season as a substitute for the United players struggling to make it to the end of 90 minutes.

Now at the halfway mark for the A-League season, Burgess is slowly progressing to Rudan’s starting 11.

His performance against the Mariners was a clear example of his progression, progress Rudan is happy to take the credit for.

“We’ve been working with him a lot, he’s got a lot of belief in his coach and it goes both ways,” he said.

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With developing playmaker abilities, Burgess was a crucial piece of United’s midfield.

Retaining a possession rate 89 per cent with three assists and one chance at goal, he effortlessly moved through the Mariners attacking and defensive lines.

Picking up the creative slack after teammate Alessandro Diamanti came off the pitch injured, Burgess justified his place in United’s starting 11.

But it has not always been smooth sailing for the 24-year-old.

Burgess had previously struggled to make his mark in the league and managed a combined six appearances for the Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets in 2014/15.

He was also a key figure during Rudan’s stint at Wellington Phoenix after he was uprooted from NPL NSW side Sydney Olympic.

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Yet playing minutes were restricted for Burgess at Wellington, namely because Sarpreet Singh filled his position.

Reuniting with his former mentor Rudan at United at the start of the season, it seems Burgess has found his feet and secured real game time.

Despite making key progress Rudan is adamant there is still some way to go.

“He’s a very unselfish player, he’s always looking to service someone else rather than himself,” he said.

“I want him to be more selfish.

“[Overthinking] that is Max’s biggest problem, he overthinks, and he overcompensates.”

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The United coach is not wrong, overthinking for Burgess was more evident in the second half of the match more so than the first.

Despite going for his chance at goal, he took more touches compared to the first half where he was effortlessly pulling the trigger on key opportunities.

United now jump back into the fifth spot on the table with a win secured ahead of their January 26 clash against Adelaide United.

Feature Image Credit: Western United

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Suzanna Telai
Football enthusiast and student journalist, covering Western United for the 2019/20 A-League season