AAP Soccer

Rudan casts doubt over future at Phoenix

By AAP Newswire

Mark Rudan's future beyond this season at the Wellington Phoenix appears on shaky ground after the in-demand coach refused to commit to seeing out his contract.

On the eve of Friday's match against A-League champions Melbourne Victory in Auckland, Rudan said he is finding it hard to cope with being apart from his Sydney-based family.

He also wants assurances that Phoenix management will improve aspects of the team's off-field operations or he will leave with a season to run on his two-year deal.

Losing Rudan would be a body blow for the long-suffering Kiwi club, which has made vast improvements this season.

The 43-year-old has previously hinted at finding it harder than expected to be apart from his wife and sons and spoke openly about that when pressed by journalists on Thursday.

Rudan conceded he is in talks about his future but wouldn't comment on speculation linking him to expansion club Western United FC.

"I've got a personal situation I have to resolve and pretty soon as well," Rudan said.

"I've got two teenage kids who need their dad around and a dad who needs them around too.... I also said (previously) that if I thought it was going to be this hard I probably wouldn't have taken this on.

"That's reality."

Family ties aren't the only potential reason for a return across the Tasman for Rudan, whose team have exceeded expectations after a disastrous 2017-18 season.

Sixth, eight points clear of the Newcastle Jets, they are odds-on to reach the finals.

Yet Rudan revealed dissatisfaction at elements of the club's direction.

He wouldn't elaborate but appeared frustrated at Wellington's tight budget.

"I'm not going to sit back and rest on my laurels," he said.

"If things that have been done in the past continue in that way, then I won't be here.

"They need to improve, everything needs to improve."

Phoenix chief executive David Dome and chairman Rob Morrison have both been quizzed this month on Rudan's future.

Neither has guaranteed he will stay, instead declaring Rudan as a man of principle who they would expect to honour his deal.

Although Rudan said that blood is thicker than any contract agreement.

"I keep saying, first and foremost, I am most honourable to my family, simple as that," he said.

"And you can take that however you want, but that is the start of it and the end of it."

The uncertainty is an unwanted distraction before Phoenix's game at Eden Park, which is is expected to attract a crowd of close to 20,000 with Japanese star Keisuke Honda poised to start for second-placed Victory.