Disrespectful? You’re having a laugh
In a strange series of events yesterday, Mark Rudan first labelled Ernie Merrick’s comments about his side as ‘‘disrespectful’’, but later clarified he (Rudan) was having a laugh.
It all stemmed from a quote from Merrick published this week about how the Phoenix set themselves up during their 2-1 win over the Newcastle Jets in week one.
‘‘When you play that defensive structure, if it’s a draw or you’re up 1-0, it really works. The problem is, when you play like that when you’re down a goal, it makes life very difficult. You’ve got to change your whole mindset and play much more attacking football and commit forward,’’ Merrick said at the post-match press conference on October 21 when asked how well the Phoenix might do this year.
At his media session yesterday, Rudan said, through a series of half-smiles only picked up when reviewing the video, it wasn’t the sort of comment he would make about another team.
‘‘Regarding that, it paid us a lot of credit because it was a coach that we had just beaten, who had been here for three years and wants to talk about the opposition.
‘‘I thought that was somewhat disrespectful, that’s not how I work. I wouldn’t talk about another team or what they could do better or what type of team they are.
‘‘I think everyone has their own way of doing things as a coach and I certainly wouldn’t pass comment on Ernie, I’ve got a lot of respect for him, but I kind of thought it was a little bit disrespectful, particularly after losing.’’
Rudan later called to say his comments were made in jest, emphasising he had the utmost respect for Merrick.
Before that, Merrick called in from Newcastle to say he was surprised by Rudan’s reaction and his comment may have been taken out of context.
‘‘It was a comment made three weeks ago after we played them saying it’s a good system that worked well against us, but it’s the type of system that if you go a goal down it’s tough to fight back, that’s all.
‘‘I wasn’t commenting on his coaching skill or methodology, I was actually praising him. I think he’s doing a great job with the Phoenix.’’
It was a touch odd to still be talking about week one with the Phoenix preparing for their week four away match against Melbourne City this Friday night.
But Merrick’s comments were published this week because they were somewhat prophetic about the Phoenix’s inability to mount a meaningful comeback after falling behind early in their 3-0 home loss to Western Sydney last weekend.
And Rudan saw fit to respond when asked about it at his media session. Then it got a tad weird, misinterpretations may have taken place, and here we are.
Mark Rudan, left, and Ernie Merrick in a respectful exchange before the Phoenix-Jets match.