Wellington Phoenix's treatment of Mark Rudan 'all part of the fun'
Western United coach Mark Rudan spent an offseason in the spotlight after his A-League defection from Wellington Phoenix.
But on Sunday night he returned to Westpac Stadium, where he was booed, jeered, and even dodged a flag or two flung from the stands.
"It was quite clear what my role was going to be coming back here," Rudan said after overseeing a 1-0 win.
"And that was fine. We work in the entertainment industry.
"No issue. No problem. No dramas. It's to be expected. All good. All part of the fun, isn't it?"
In fact, Rudan believed it may have helped his side engineer the first-up success.
Western United were only admitted to the league in December last year, and have had to build a professional organisation from the ground up since then.
So if Rudan being target allowed his players to avoid scrutiny in the build-up to the match, he was delighted to shoulder the load.
"All that other stuff, it allowed my players to go out there and do their job without any problems or issues," he said.
"That's my job. It's my job to protect my players and my football club as well. That's what I do."
The most savage attack from the stands was a banner that read "One Thief, Three Traitors" -- a dig at Rudan and departing players led by Andrew Durante.
Durante spent the last 11 years at the club as captain and is their A-League appearance record-holder with 273 matches for the Phoenix. The 37-year-old was also booed when he was on the ball; but the Yellow Fever relented after the final whistle by applauding and singing his name.
One-season Phoenix coach Rudan said their differing lengths of tenure deserved different treatment.
"He's a legend, an absolute legend here," he said. "This guy's has given his heart and soul to football club for 11 years. He deserved what he got at the end."
Western United head back to Victoria on Monday having banked a critical three points in their historic first clash.
They will now enjoy four of their next five games at home, Geelong's GMHBA Stadium, beginning with Perth Glory on Sunday.
"Every coach in the league will tell you just how hard this place is to come and get anything," Rudan said. "Momentum is good. Belief is important."