Mark Rudan got off to the perfect start as Western Sydney boss as his side secured a 1-0 A-League Men win over Perth Glory on Wednesday night.
The former Wellington Phoenix and Western United coach was appointed Carl Robinson’s replacement on Monday after the Welshman was sacked following Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Brisbane Roar.
A first-half goal from Robinson’s major signing, former England international Jack Rodwell, was enough for the Wanderers to secure just their second win of the season as they moved up to eighth on the table.
“I am really happy for the players,” Rudan, who only had two training sessions with his side, said.
“I think you saw a completely different performance which tells me I have some smart footballers who take on messages very quickly. But we’ve still got a long way to go.
“We tried to keep it simple but give them enough information so they know their roles and responsibility. For them to have taken them on so quickly was pleasing.”
Rudan anointed Rodwell as his captain, just five days after Robinson had handed the role to Tomer Hemed given Rhys Williams’ lengthy injury.
The new skipper found the back of the net in the 26th minute in front of a crowd of just 4124 at CommBank Stadium.
Heavy rain, the change of coach, and a midweek meeting with Perth meant there was never likely to be a bumper crowd for this game, but the fact the club’s active support base staged a boycott made the ground seem extra barren.
They cited rules surrounding singing and dancing enforced by NSW Police, the Wanderers and stadium authorities as reasons for their absence.
Those Wanderers fans who were in attendance got a scare when Perth’s Andy Keogh nearly intercepted a backpass to goalkeeper Tomas Mejias in the opening minute.
The Glory were without Daniel Sturridge, Brandon O’Neill, Bruno Fornaroli, Mitch Oxborrow and Jack Clisby due to COVID-19 protocols and struggled to make much of an impact throughout.
Key to that was Rudan barking instructions from the sideline that led to an increased intensity in pressing from the Wanderers.
From Perth mistakes the Wanderers surged forward with James Troisi and Kejiro Ogawa unable to capitalise on first-half chances.
Rodwell gave them the breakthrough when a Thomas Aquilina cross into the Glory box fell into his feet and, after controlling the delivery, fired past Cameron Cook in goal.
And he could have added another two goals and a handful of assists to his name had his finishing and that of his teammates been better.
Perth barely strung an attacking play together in the second half but boss Richard Garcia was happy with the effort from his depleted side.
“It was always going to be difficult when you’ve got five of your starters out,” he said.
“I thought there were some really good patches in the game but we just lacked that killer instinct in the final third.”