Western United Head Coach Mark Rudan has put to bed any potential mutterings around Besart Berisha following his side’s 2-0 defeat to Sydney FC on Sunday.
The elevation of Scott McDonald to the starting XI at the expense of Berisha was the sole change to Rudan’s starting XI for the visit from the A-League champions, the 34-year-old striker eventually entering the game as a half-time substitute for Kwabena Appiah-Kubi.
Berisha’s wide-eyed reaction to his 62nd-minute substitution in United’s 1-0 loss to Central Coast Mariners the week prior quickly became the talk of social media in the wake of the incident, as did his refusal to shake hands the hands of Rudan as he departed.
Though the striker posted an apologetic Instagram post during the week and the club had moved to hose down speculation, his absence from the XI provided fuel for rumours to potentially reignite.
Rudan, though, was on hand with a bucket of water post-game.
“Had nothing to do with last week,” the United coach said.
“We moved on very quickly. Besart showed a lot of remorse the day after, spoke to his teammates at the airport when we got to Melbourne and spoke to the coaching staff as well.
“He understands the culture and the environment that we’re creating here, absolutely no issue here, never has been a personal issue. We don’t want to take that away from him, that winning mentality and that fighting attitude.
“It was purely tactical this week, we wanted to stretch them. We wanted a bit of pace; we played with the two tens and the one striker to try and get in behind them. We know they play with very compact lines as well, so we believed by overloading that midfield area we needed someone off the shoulder.
“And that’s my fault, if you want to call it a fault. I purely am responsible for that. And today’s result, that’s my responsibility – 100%.”