Western United ready to “suffer” for a win against Western Sydney Wanderers

Set to be without Tomislav Uskok and Víctor Sánchez through suspension, Western United coach Mark Rudan is preparing for a stern test when his side hosts the “deepest squad in the league” in Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday afternoon. The Western gaffer, though, is confident his club has what it takes to “suffer” if needed to get the win.

After securing maximum points from their previous two games, the A-League’s green and black outfit will welcome Western Sydney to Mars Stadium on Sunday evening knowing that a further three points will see them leapfrog their Sydney-based rivals on the A-League table and, should other results go their way, into the top six. 

Carl Robinson’s side, conversely, will be seeking to arrest a two-game losing run when they make the trek to regional Victoria; recently suffering home defeats to Adelaide United and Melbourne City to make it just a single win in their past six games.

In the midst of the equal-longest finals drought in the league heading into the 2020-21 season, the Wanderers have recruited strongly to secure a return to what the club considers to be their rightful place amongst the A-League’s biggest sides. Taking advantage of the perilous financial situation at Newcastle Jets to secure Robinson, the club subsuequntly signed the likes of Graham Dorrans, Bernie Ibini, Ziggy Gordon and James Troisi. Further reinforcement arrived in the form of spiritual leader Mitch Duke and Jordon Mutch early on in the season. 

Robinson may still be trying to determine the best way to deploy the talent at his disposal to its maximum effect, but it’s a collection of players that is capable of giving any opposition coach fits should they click into a lethal gear all at once.

“For me, they’ve got the deepest squad in the league,” said Rudan. “It’s no secret that they’re the highest spenders alongside Melbourne City as well, and that’s a credit to [Wanderers’ chairman] Mr [Paul] Lederer. 

“He’s extremely generous with his club and his coaches and he gives them every opportunity to do well every year. 

“When you talk about strikers, they’ve got a good six or seven that would walk into any other team. How you keep them happy I have no idea. It’s their careers at the end of the day and knowing that you’re playing 30 minutes here and there I’m not sure if that’s good for their careers. But that’s something for their manager and their club to determine and manage I guess. 

“They’ve got an abundance of talent in that front line and they can chop and change however they want. They’ve got the ability to do that because of a generous owner.” 

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Western’s boss, who managed at West Sydney-based NPL NSW sides Rockdale City and Sydney United during his formative coaching years, previously praised the work of Robinson during his time in charge of the Jets amidst the A-League’s hub-based run home in 2019-20 – declaring that they were playing the best football in the competition prior to finals. 

And although the Welshman may have now traded in the Hunter for Parramatta, Rudan thinks that his tactical approach has survived the move. 

“They continue to play the same formation, the same system, they haven’t changed too much there,” he said. “They still want to play out from the back, they’re a footballing side and they’re a very good footballing side. 

“Now, [Robinson] hasn’t tweaked anything or changed anything, it’s pretty much the same. I have a look at their setup with and without the ball, goal kicks, throw ins, it’s all very similar to Newcastle. 

“The difference is, I daresay, he’s got a deeper squad to work with. He’s probably got a different type of player, or players, in terms of quality, he certainly didn’t have the depth that he’s got now with his team.”

If Western is to secure their third win on the bounce, it will have to come without the services of centre back Uskok and midfielder Sánchez; who have both been ruled out of the contest through suspension. 

Rudan had raised the possibility of his club challenging the second yellow card that Uskok was shown against Victory in an effort to ensure he was available for Sunday evening, but confirmed on Friday that the decision had been ultimately made that it was a fight that couldn’t be won. 

Andrew Durante and Brendan Hamill shape as possible replacements for Uskok, while Jerry Skotadis and Luke Duzel are amongst those with a chance to replace Sánchez – although their coach wouldn’t rule out suprising Wanderers with an altered system instead.

“We’re a team that’s in form and playing some good football,” Rudan said. “We know what it takes to win and we’ve got a winning mentality now. 

“One thing we’ve changed is that in a game we’re able to shift our focus and be able to suffer when we have to. We understand now. We talk a lot about moments in a game, the fluidity of a game, how a game changes sometimes and you don’t have a lot of the ball. 

“[There are] behaviours, habits and the discipline to remain firm. We’ve learned to suffer a bit as opposed to always trying to play and always trying to have the ball and control the game.

“I’m very happy with that but the most important thing is our winning mentality – particularly last week. That’s so important, finding a way to win all the time.”

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