Dis­re­spect­ful? You’re hav­ing a laugh

Taranaki Daily News - - Sport - Liam Hys­lop

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.

GETTY IM­AGES

Mark Ru­dan, left, and Ernie Mer­rick in a re­spect­ful ex­change be­fore the Phoenix-Jets match.

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