Western United have wasted no time in launching a bid for A-League supremacy in Melbourne, announcing Mark Rudan as coach and laying a claim to be Melbourne Victory's biggest rival.
The expansion A-League club announced Rudan, who steered Wellington Phoenix to a finals berth in his first A-League season, as the club's foundation coach on Thursday.
Rudan's appointment was rumoured for months, and the 43-year-old confirmed he was kept in the loop of club movements and signings while managing the Phoenix.
"Was I asked, in terms of the players? Yes I was," he said.
"No different to when other coaches ask for my opinion on players that I coach ... it's part of the job."
Western United signed Filip Kurto and Max Burgess from Phoenix, but Rudan ruled out a raid on his former club for Johnny Warren Medallist Roy Krishna.
He said he was comfortable with his conduct while managing the Phoenix and entertaining Western United's approach.
"I had an agreement with the football club as well when I told them I was moving on ... there was a process in place, a level of integrity," he said.
"Not at any stage have I approached or spoken to any of my ex-Wellington players.
"Did they come up to me? That's a different story."
Now finally confirmed in the role, Rudan wasted no time selling the club's position.
Rudan believes the Western-Victory meetings will overtake the established City-Victory derby, saying it "lacks a proper derby type of atmosphere".
"I have watched Melbourne Victory against Melbourne City, and I don't really feel it, as opposed to up in Sydney," he said.
"There is a clear divide in demographic up there.That's what we possess right now.
"We are very clear on who we are and what we represent, and that's the West part of Melbourne, all the way from the West Gate bridge."
Chief executive Maurice Bistretto said after an "exhaustive search", he was delighted to land Rudan, who had other offers after his fine season with the Nix.
"Mark will lead our vision, build our culture, grow our brand and start to create our history," he said.
Football boss Steve Horvat said the three-year deal was a show of commitment and faith.
"There's no get-out clause. We're joined at the hip here," he said.
Rudan, who cited home sickness after leaving the Phoenix one year into a two-deal deal, said he was energised by the "hugely ambitious" club.
"People involved in the club who have been involved in the game for decades, they are proper football people. Building their own stadium. It was just an opportunity that couldn't be passed up," he said.
"To be the first head coach of the side is something that genuinely excites me ... you've got a blank piece of paper where you can create what you want."
Australian Associated Press