Risdon on Rudan's radar as Western United boss targets individual improvement
Mark Rudan set his sights on restoring Josh Risdon's status as Australia's premier right-back as he resolved to elevate Western United's squad to new heights.
The new Hyundai A-League outfit confirmed Rudan as their inaugural head coach on Thursday and the former Wellington Phoenix boss is already itching to meet his new players.
Assistant coaches John Anastasiadis and John Hutchinson have spearheaded recruitment since the start of the year, assembling a 16-man roster featuring experienced heads Scott McDonald, Panagiotis Kone and Ersan Gulum.
But it's bringing the best out of players like Risdon, who became the first Australian to commit to the club back in February, that excites Rudan.
The 26-year-old defender was a starter for the Caltex Socceroos at last year's FIFA World Cup but battled for form and fitness on his return to Western Sydney Wanderers.
"Every single one of these guys has got a certain challenge ahead of them," Rudan told a-league.com.au.
"It's important we set those goals nice and early and find out exactly what they want to get out of their football careers, and it's our job to make sure that happens to the best of our ability.
"Josh Risdon is a guy that has lost his place in the Socceroos team to Rhyan Grant. I'm sure he wants to come and make amends.
"He's had a tough year with injury but he's a fantastic footballer who I believe could once again become the best full-back in the competition and go play for the Socceroos again.
"I could go on about a lot of players who, when I look at that list, probably haven't hit the levels they can.
"I'm super excited to be working with them.
"I've got a lot of belief in these players. It's about getting them to where they want to get to and beyond if possible.
"It will come down to how hard they're willing to work at their craft and how seriously they take their jobs as well.
"We've got to instil a culture and environment where the togetherness of the team is hugely important.
"Without that, it doesn't really matter about individuals."
Rudan opted to join Western United after an encouraging campaign as a first-time Hyundai A-League head coach in Wellington.
The 43-year-old former Sydney FC centre-back ended Phoenix's four-year absence from the Finals Series, but the prospect of being closer to his family and leading a new enterprise proved too difficult to ignore.
"It's a huge opportunity for me personally," he said.
"Coming back to Australia was always important first and foremost. It allows my family to live with me, having been away for a year.
"The opportunity to come to a brand new club and see out your own vision, be able to create a certain culture and environment that is going to last a lifetime.
"The fact the club is extremely ambitious, you've got football people who are running the football club who get the game and have been around the game for decades.
"They want to be successful, any coach wants to be successful and I'm just as ambitious as the owners as well.
"That excites me greatly. This club has big dreams and big ambitions and so do I."