Western United coach Mark Rudan has flagged big changes for Saturday’s A-League clash with Sydney FC, blasting his players for a lack of heart in their loss to Central Coast.
The Mariners stunned United with a come-from-behind 3-2 win in Gosford on Sunday night after Rudan’s men let slip a 2-1 lead in the 77th minute.
The fired-up manager was left fuming after the loss, saying players would be facing the chop for not matching the energy and desire the Mariners showed in the final 20 minutes.
“I felt we were like schoolboys, particularly defending set pieces, It wasn’t good enough,” Rudan said.
“We didn’t match their intensity or desire and that’s not the Western United way.
“That’s certainly not what I’m about and that’s what disappointed me the most.
“I’ve been very loyal to some players and they’ve got absolutely no excuse if they don’t find themselves starting next week.
“Not matching that fight and desire, I thought some players out there just weren’t up for it.
“They need to understand that if they want to be a part of this football club, then that’s not good enough.”
United looked the best side, leading by a goal at halftime, but smart substitutions gave the Mariners an edge as teenager Alou Kwol scored a double in four minutes.
And as the Mariners’ confidence grew, United went into their shell.
“They’re the key moments,” Rudan said.
“Under pressure, what are you made of? Who are you?
“As a football player, as a human, you show yourself.
“It’s not just about producing skill sets, it’s about being able to match the intensity of the opposition away from home.”
The loss was the second of the season for the struggling United side, who will face A-League champions Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the comeback win was the second in a row for the top-placed Mariners, who continue to shock with their stunning turn of form from last year’s wooden spoon.
The Mariners are now three points clear of Brisbane at the top of the ladder after the Roar celebrated a stunning 5-3 win over Melbourne Victory.
Earlier on Sunday, Newcastle scored their second win of the season with a 1-0 victory over Melbourne City.
The Jets eased out of the bottom three through a first-half goal to Valentino Yuel, but it resigned last year’s grand finalists to their third straight loss.
Although they finished strongly against the Jets, City join fellow A-League giants Melbourne Victory in the bottom four along with United and Wellington.
Elsewhere Western Sydney finished with a 2-all draw with Macarthur, while Perth beat Adelaide in a fiery encounter 2-1.