Mark Rudan has fired a warning to his Western Sydney Wanderers stars by saying they are playing for their futures between now and the end of the season.
The Wanderers are priced at 9/4 to finish in the top six of the A-League and play finals, but to do that they will need to raise their game.
Rudan has only just taken the reins from sacked boss Carl Robinson and although he has seen plenty of positives, there is also plenty of room for improvement.
Top stars Dimitri Petratos and James Troisi were taken off at half-time at the weekend as Wanderers slipped to a 3-2 defeat against Western United.
It was a sign that Rudan is not scared to axe star players if they are not performing and he has told them they need to raise their game if they want to stay on board.
18 players will be off-contract or will see their loan deals expire at the end of the season so there is more than just points and a place in finals to play for.
And Rudan cannot spell it out any clearer as to what is required from his players.
"At this elite level, it's cut-throat, and I experienced it," Rudan told reporters. "You've got to obviously be open, explain to them, be honest with them, in terms of where they need to improve and if I do make a decision like that, it's not that I don't speak to them.
"They have to be disappointed first of all and then know why I did what I did and I'm pretty open with all of them in that regard.
"A lot of them are playing for their futures. A lot of them are coming out of contract at the season. The onus is on them as much as it is on myself."