Mark Rudan is talking about a revolution at the Wellington Phoenix after being appointed head coach of the A-League strugglers for two seasons.
The ambitious Rudan believes he can breathe life into a club whose future is tenuous.
The man who captained Sydney FC to the inaugural A-League title in 2006, Rudan has made a promising start to his coaching career, winning both NSW Premier League and Australian Premier League titles with Sydney United in 2013 and 2016.
His first A-League coaching role is with a club whose licence could be terminated in two seasons if they don’t make substantial improvements to off- field metrics such as crowd and broadcasting figures.
Turning around their fortunes on the field is where it will begin for the 42-year-old.
“Throughout my playing career and my coaching career, I’ve always kept a keen eye on clubs like this and it’s certainly one that needs to change in a lot of areas,” he said.
“Not just the players, but the staff and all stakeholders will understand exactly where we’re heading.
“It’s not a dictatorship but I want to see a change at the football club.”
He replaces Darije Kalezic, who was sacked in March.
Chris Greenacre saw out the season as interim head coach as the Phoenix finished ninth.
He is favoured to assist Rudan, although that hasn’t been finalised.
The Phoenix general manager David Dome conceded Kalezic failed to succeed because he wasn’t equipped to cope with the Australasian way of doing things.
“It was very important for us to find a coach who understood the Australian and New Zealand culture,” Dome said.
“When Mark’s name came across our desk, he stood out as someone who would be that kind of coach, who can do a lot for Wellington.
“We are an ‘underdog’ club, we can’t escape that, we have to fight for everything we get and we wanted someone who would buy into what the club faces and is capable of leading that fight and we think Mark is that person,” said Dome.
“There’s two more years left on our current licence. We all understand that the club needs to succeed, the club needs to perform.”
Rudan has already begun sounding out recruitment candidates, with just 11 Phoenix players currently signed for next season.
He will select players based on the way he wants to play, prioritising attitude and commitment.
“I can bring in half a squad and that’s going to be extremely important,” he said.
“Some new coaches don’t have that ability. You’ve got what you’ve got.”
He will get his head around the New Zealand domestic scene and the Phoenix academy, convinced there must be some “rough diamonds” to be uncovered.
A former centre back Rudan played in Germany, China, Japan, Switzerland and Australia in an 18-year professional career.