Mark Rudan has revealed Western United are close to signing a defensive midfielder in an attempt to narrow the gap on the A-League’s leading contenders.
The Green and Black just came up short of reaching the Grand Final in their inaugural season when they fell 2-0 to Premiers and eventual Champions, Sydney FC, after a fifth-placed league finish.
Head coach Rudan had to reinvent his squad throughout the disrupted 2019/20 campaign after six players departed mid-season, including central midfielders Connor Chapman, Dario Jertec and marquee man Panagiotis Kone.
The former Wellington Phoenix chief cites Melbourne City’s Josh Brillante and Sydney FC’s Luke Brattan as key pieces in the line-ups that finished first and second in the ladder and went on to compete in the big dance.
“We’re very close to agreeing with a defensive midfielder,” Rudan revealed.
“If you look at the two most successful teams last year, arguably the best two were [Josh] Brillante and Luke Brattan.
“For me, that’s an area that we believe we need to strengthen.”
MACARTHUR FC: All to know about the A-League newcomers ahead of debut season
LATEST SIGNINGS: All of the players signed for A-League 2020/21 Season
After retaining the majority of the roster that impressed during the start-up club’s A-League debut, and adding ex-Melbourne City forward Lachlan Wales, Rudan is determined to go one match further in 2020/21.
“Knowing that we were one step away form the Grand Final last year, there’s nothing stopping us in terms of our belief – or nothing should stop us – from reaching that next level,” Rudan said.
“We want to be better which means we want to be there on the last day of the season.”
Simon insists seniors need to lead Mariners up the ladder
Veteran forward Matt Simon has called on Central Coast Mariners’ senior players to lead the basement dwellers out of the A-League doldrums.
The two-time A-League Premiers and 2013 Champions have collected three straight wooden spoons and have not gained more than 20 points in any of the past five seasons.
Alen Stajcic’s arrival as head coach signalled a series of mini-resurgences in Gosford but the Yellow and Navy have been unable to climb away from the bottom of the pile.
The club have recently appointed Ken Schembri as Head of Football and Peter Zois as goalkeeping coach, and local favourite Simon is rallying his experienced teammates to lead from the front in 2020/21.
“With such a young squad it’s important to have a core group of senior players and we have had Ollie [Bozanic] come in this year which is brilliant for the team,” Simon told ccmariners.com.au.
“People like Birraz, myself, Ziggy [Gordon], we can really lead the way and show the young ones how to do things around the professional setup.
“And it’s up to us to lead them as a squad and I’m sure the young ones will follow.”
Reds confirm coaching appointment
Adelaide United have confirmed Airton Andrioli has been appointed as Head of Youth Football and will continue assisting Carl Veart’s first-team staff.
The Brazilian acted as Veart’s interim assistant for the final five matches of the 2019/20 A-League campaign, and will join Ross Aloisi and Eugene Galekovic in the the Reds’ senior coaching department for the 2020/21 season.
Jets line up Roar as pre-season opponents
Newcastle Jets are yet to appoint a replacement for outgoing head coach Carl Robinson but their pre-season schedule is shaping up ahead of the start of the new A-League campaign.
The Hunter outfit will face neighbours Edgeworth Eagles on Saturday, 21 November at Jack McLaughlan Oval before going up against Macarthur FC on Thursday, 26 November at Maitland No.1 Sportsground.
A fortnight ahead of the season kick-off, Brisbane Roar will provide the opposition at C.ex Coffs International Stadium in Coffs Harbour on Saturday, 12 December.