One may be an established A-League superpower and the other the new kids on the block, but round 21 looms as a backs against the wall moment for the finals aspirations of both Melbourne Victory and Western United.
“Now we are in the finals, and the first one is tomorrow.
“We've won three games in the last 45 days - three games. And [if we win] tomorrow [it] will be the fourth one. I know that this is the first in the A-League
“It will be the first in the league, yes, but it will not be the first win - it will be the fourth in the preparation of the last 45 days.”
Rudan and his squad will head down the highway to Geelong on Sunday to take on a Mariners side that, coincidentally, is the one side the club was able to defeat during their lean run of form – a 3-0 at Kardinia Park in round 15.
“It’s a must-win game, it’s a must-win game as far as we’re concerned,” the United boss said.
“They’re on the back of six losses [but] our form isn’t the best results wise. Our performances have to be a bit better; we haven’t scored for a number of games as well. Just in general we need to be better.
“This for us is a must-win.
“We have to be better in everything we do.
“We’ve worked a lot on the tactical side of the game, although it’s hard against the Mariners because they do chop and change personnel, they chop and change formation as well. It’s very hard to have a clear picture and paying style with them.
“So, the onus is on us and making sure that we do everything better. Without the ball to our transitional moments are better as well, staying a lot more compact when we don’t have the ball, and being better and more ruthless when we do have possession of the ball.”
On the subject of United’s profligacy in front of goal – the club not having scored since their 4-3 loss to Adelaide in round 16 – Rudan was clear on what needed to improve.
“It’s all mindset,” he said.
“Everything is a mindset, to how you apply yourself every day at training, a lot of positivity. These guys are fantastic players, they’re good, young or experienced its irrelevant.
“It’s a mindset, it’s about switching or flicking that switch in your mind.
“If you have an off day or a bad day in the office or if you have a bad touch or you don’t take your opponent on who cares? It’s a mindset, keep going.
“It’s about being positive and staying positive and keeping moving forward.”