Rudan: We’re a different team

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New boys on the block Western United started their maiden A-League campaign strong, but currently sitting seventh on the table, it is hard not to question where the Green and Blacks have gone wrong.

United’s initial success was not been all that surprising, especially when looking at the quality of players they secured in the off-season.

Key visa signings Alessandro Diamanti and Panagiotis Kone have introduced a classier version of football to A-League and mixed with the home-grown talents such as Josh Risdon, Aaron Calver and Connor Pain, United effortlessly sat third on the table for the opening weeks of their season.

United’s presence on the pitch was undoubtedly positive at the beginning of their season, with a clear and concise slow-paced style of play there was no questioning that the Green and Blacks were a good first choice for the A-League’s expansion.

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Despite the initial success, United have had an extreme drop from third to seventh on the A-League table.

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Manager Mark Rudan was not looking to make excuses about his squad’s more recent performances, but did not hide the fact his team is not the same he started the season with.

“We’re a different team than we were at the start of the season, I think that goes without saying,” he said.

“With the players we have playing for us now it’s a bit different, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t be competitive.”

Many people have tried to throw in their own insights into why United’s season has taken such a drastic turn, but a multitude of departures and injuries has had the biggest impact on the Green and Black’s current season, a sentiment that Rudan seems to agree with.

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“If you’ve got a set of players to work on and halfway through the year three or four of them move on you replace them,” he said.

Currently United has seen three players depart the club mid-season. Turkish national Ersan Gulum and Connor Chapman both left at the end of 2019, leaving an immense gap in United’s defensive third.

Scott McDonald requested a released from the club only six months after he was signed to Western United and his attacking instincts and vast experience helped his initial side reach their strong start.

Yet mid-season club departures are not the only obstacle Rudan and his squad have had to overcome, with a slew of injuries also putting a damper on their season.

The defensive stocks have been low with both Brendan Hamill and Aaron Calver missing crucial games because of a torn ACL and metatarsal fracture respectively.

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United’s defensive personnel had already suffered after Josh Risdon missed early games because of a foot injury.

Missing key members of their squad has not left much wiggle room in terms of replacements, with United’s young guns filling the spots of missing experienced players.

While that is not to put United’s drop on the table on their young signings, filling in the gaps without as much experience has not had the greatest impact on the club’s season.

For Rudan, his squad should be working at the same standard no matter their age or experience.

“The playing personnel has changed, but it’s a work in progress,” he said.

“The boys, they have to continue to work hard.

Western United are still only four points out from making it into the top six.

While finals football may still be on the cards for the Green and Black’s their season’s inconsistencies make it difficult to gauge where they will finish their maiden campaign.

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