Wellington Phoenix head coach Mark Rudan hailed the first-half performance as his side kept their lead to claim a 1-0 victory against Melbourne City on Saturday.
David Williams scored a rocket into the top corner inside the first five minutes of the game as he brought his tally up to five for the season.
Despite a strong second half from the Melbourne side, Filip Kurto gave his best performance of the season to deny them an equaliser and keep all three points in front of an 8000+ strong crowd at Westpac Stadium.
On Filip Kurto…
“There was a reason why we decided to use a visa spot for a goalkeeper. That’s what he gets paid to do, that’s his job. It’s as simple as that. Some do it better than others and today, particularly in the second half because I thought he was playing cards with himself in the first half, he didn’t have much to do at all. It’s not just about Filip Kurto. Like I said I thought he did well, did what he had to do in the second half.”
“I thought the performance overall was very very good in terms of the result and the way they dug in and they fought for each other. We had to change the formation somewhat in the second half so I changed it a little bit, tweaked it. I thought that helped us because they were getting in between the lines but I thought the first half performance was different class. Against a team that is above us and people keep keep questioning us. ‘What about this run, what about the games coming up…?’. There’s not one team now that we haven’t taken points off above us so keep throwing those questions away because these boys will keep rising to the challenge.”
On Strongest XI…
“Players come in and out of this team purely based on performance, their loading, injuries, suspension and all the rest of it. Ask me that question maybe in a few more weeks time because we aren’t the finished deal, we aren’t the finished product. There are still players there within in the team who I believe have every right to fight for a starting berth. We created a competition within the playing squad and the playing group for a reason to make sure I don’t answer that question straight away because I don’t have one solid XI that I’m going to rely on week in week out, it just doesn’t work that way. We have a bigger squad, we have 20 contracted for a reason and I make sure that we include and it’s an inclusive environment that all players, even though they may not be starting certain games, feel just as important as those that are. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve got such a strong group and such a good culture and strong environment at this football club.”
On Competition within the squad
“The competition, as I said to Jason (Pine), isn’t just amongst players but it’s amongst positions. There are little competitions taking place between the three defenders, the two midfielders, the two strikers and the wing-backs. Again, it’s something that we’ve created where I want them to compete. Louis (Fenton) and Libby (Cacace) compete against each other. Who can get forward more often? Who can get back more often? Who’s going to be covering more kilometers and more high-speed sprints? Who can get more balls into the box, there’s a competition there. Two strikers exactly the same, it’s not to mean that they are selfish in any way, shape or form but there are little competitions amongst the playing group as well so it’s good. You need to share the goalscoring load around, as far as I’m concerned. You look at any successful team in this history of this competition and going back in the NSL. The top goalscorer in that team always needed a helping hand somewhere. What I would say is that who else can now chip in because we need some more goals from other players as well. That’s going to be important too.”
Watch the full press conference here.