Rudan and Western United eyeing consistent results ahead of “must win” Brisbane game

Scorers of eight goals in two wins and coming off an emotional, last-second triumph over Melbourne Victory, Western United entered last week with a wet sail: games in hand on their rivals and eyeing off the top slots on the A-Leauge table.

They then promptly hit a reef. 

Putting in an uncharacteristically demure performance, coach Mark Rudan’s side suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Western Sydney Wanderers in Ballarat last Sunday, which was then followed by the mid-week, 2-0 defeat to the Harboursiders. Veteran defender Andrew Durante received a late red card in the latter contest and will miss the coming clash with Brisbane Roar through suspension.

Though they still retain at least a single game in hand on the sides above them on the table bar Perth Glory, Western now finds themselves four points back of the playoff spots and 14 points adrift of the table-topping Central Coast Mariners. 

The side from Tarneit has yet to produce a three-game run without defeat this season but, for their coach, the root cause of their problems lie less with their performances and more an inability to convert what he considers to be “pretty good” showings into results.

This, he believes, is indicative of a broader trend around the A-League.  

“There’s no consistency in results, but I can tell you ten other teams [the league-leading Mariners the exception in his eyes] that are in the same position as us. We’re no different than anyone else,” Rudan said. 

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“I think there’s been consistency in performances. Maybe the Sydney game, making five changes is maybe why that happened. Unlike other teams we haven’t been belted, it’s always been tight. We haven’t lost by more than two goals – other teams have. 

“The results are inconsistent, but performances for me have been pretty good. But we’ve got to turn those… sometimes you’ve got to have a poor performance and win. We’re not there yet. Byt that’s kind of the way I coach, I don’t want to play poorly and win. 

“I don’t like ugly. I want us to play a certain brand of football and you want to win the game as well. I won’t change in that regard. But if you’re holding on away from home and there are 20 minutes to go I’ll change things up and make sure that we hold on to the result.

“But, certainly, results have been inconsistent but that’s just the league. You can see just how tight it is. It’s no different. We’ve got to turn decent performances into wins and half-decent performances into wins as well.”

Sunday evening’s meeting with Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park will provide Western with their next opportunity to begin to string together a consistent run of results – something the visitors will also be keen to tap into. 

After a strong start to the season under first-year coach Warren Moon, Roar hasn’t won a game since their 5-2 hammering of Melbourne Victory back on February 6 – a run of five games that has featured just two goals. 

“It’s about us,” Rudan said when asked about Roar. “It’s a must-win game for us. Simple as that. There’s a little bit of a breakaway [on the table] starting to appear now. It’s three points [on offer], were at home, the boys are hurting after the last couple of results and they want to turn it around very quickly. 

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“I can see it in their eyes the next day, they want to turn things around. It’s as simple as that. It’s a must-win, nothing but three points on our mind.”

Mercurial attacker Alessandro Diamanti, midfield fulcrum Steven Lustica and first-choice keeper Filip Kurto all missed Western’s mid-week defeat to Sydney FC, and though Rudan was bullish on the prospect of at least having his Italian superstar back for the meeting with Brisbane, he struck a more cautious tone on Saturday. 

“We’ve got training this morning, so I’ll make a decision after today’s session,” said Rudan. “Lusti [Lustica] has been carrying an injury for a long time now and he needed a rest [for the Sydney game], simple as that.”

“[Kurto] didn’t train yesterday, yesterday was a recovery day. So we need to find out exactly what’s going on. He’s not 100%. He’s training today, didn’t train yesterday.”

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