New coach, new culture: Mark Rudan says finding Phoenix's identity key to club's revival

Source: 1News

Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan says developing an identity in his first season at the club has been the "foundation" for their resurrection in the A-League this year.

The Phoenix currently sit sixth place on the A-League ladder with eight rounds remaining. Should they maintain or improve on that position, Wellington would make their first playoffs in four years.

Rudan joined the team in the offseason after they finished ninth last year and told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning that when he arrived here, he was immediately concerned.

"I saw a fractured team, a team that was pretty broken on and off the park so we needed to change that pretty quickly."

The 43-year-old immediately set about making changes, but he says it wasn't just about getting to know his new club.

Phoenix manager Mark Rudan

"I had to understand Wellington, the city, and New Zealand as a country to understand what the players were about - forming an identity was important.

"Underpinning all that were values and principles within the playing group and also the whole team.

"We worked a lot on that in the preseason and that laid a good platform for us in terms of where we needed to go to... we did a lot of work on who we are and who we wanted to be."

As a result, Rudan has managed to construct a competitive environment within the team with players fighting for places in the starting XI.

"We want to have a real good crack at this and we want to be playing finals football but not just finals football - we want to have a home final which means finishing in the top four."

The first step to cracking that top four comes in hosting the second-placed Melbourne Victory this Friday at Eden Park.

Rudan said 14,500 tickets have already been sold but he's hoping more Kiwis jump on board and support the team.

"Everyone loves a winner, everyone's jumping on the bandwagon and there's nothing wrong with that - the more the merrier - so I'm hoping they do all come out.

"We're doing it for the whole country because we do represent the whole country."