Making a good fist of things
Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan threw his fist in the air as he marched past the Yellow Fever on his way off the Westpac Stadium pitch on Saturday night.
‘‘I was looking up at them and thought ‘let’s get the guys going a little bit’. I don’t normally do that, I’m not normally an emotional or sentimental type but they deserved it,’’ Rudan said.
‘‘It was good to see a smile on their faces. It is a proud city and it’s a proud country and football in this country deserves a lot more. It’s been kicked from pillar to post and we’re just a representation of this whole country.’’
The Phoenix produced a stunning second-half comeback to beat the winless Central Coast Mariners 3-2 and extend their unbeaten A-League record to eight games, with the sending off of Mariners defender Kye Rowles a massive turning point on a night where Andrew Durante celebrated a milestone 300th A-League appearance.
Roy Krishna further highlighted his importance to the Phoenix by scoring twice from the penalty spot, while his storming run also sparked the matchwinning goal scored by strike partner David Williams as the Phoenix stormed back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to score three unanswered goals.
But as pleased as Rudan was to set a new benchmark by going eight games without a defeat, the passionate coach said he was more proud of the fact he has brought the belief back to the club.
‘‘When I bought into this I bought into it wholeheartedly and the fans were no different,’’ he said. ‘‘From afar you’ve seen just how much pain and hurt not just the players have gone through, but there’s some really good people in the back office there who work hard and the coaching staff as well – but these fans, they’ve waited a bit of time.
‘‘They were patient at the start of the season as well but I think now they can sense and believe just as those players in the dressing room believe as well. Obviously there’s a lot of games and a lot of football to be played as well but you can only take the moments that come your way and they are the moments you need to enjoy.
‘‘What we’re trying to do is for all the football [followers] in this country, and that’s one thing I wrote down, can you make an
‘‘It was good to see a smile on their faces. Football in this country deserves a lot more. It’s been kicked from pillar to post.’’
Mark Rudan Phoenix coach
impact for everybody, not just this club? I know there were fractured relationships when I came here, I was inundated with information and I’m a pretty curious person but I think the most important thing for this club is the game and we’ve got an opportunity to change things at this club and more importantly change the game here.
‘‘For a long time living in the other country we used to look over to New Zealand and sort of look down. But one thing I said to my players is as Kiwis be proud of who you are, get rid of that inferior complex that has been around, that stigma that’s been there for a long time. There’s been great moments for this country against Australia but can we get more of them?’’
With 22 points to their name, the Phoenix have already surpassed their total from last season in only 13 games. They are fifth on the ladder.
‘‘We’ve still got a long way to go but if we can get people believing in this football club and a good wave, the ripple effect goes into the rest of them.
‘‘One thing we need to do is be together. It’s a small country and Wellington is a small city as well. If we can get good people, good football people involved in the game then hopefully not just our football club but the game in [general] can start to lift.’’
The Phoenix’s next match is away to Melbourne Victory, the first of four consecutive games against the top-four teams.
Passionate Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan acknowledges the backing of the club’s Yellow Fever supporters after their comeback win over the Central Coast Mariners. Inset, Phoenix fans are having plenty of reasons to get their shirts off this season.