Melbourne looks to bounce back

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick is determined to prove that last week's loss to Sydney was an aberration by bouncing back with a win over Newcastle at EnergyAustralia Stadium this week.


Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick is determined to prove that last week's loss to Sydney was an aberration by bouncing back with a win over Newcastle at EnergyAustralia Stadium this week.

Sydney stunned the defending champions 3-0 at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne's first loss in six games, but Merrick is by no means panicking that his team is about to suddenly fallen off the rails.

"In the last six weeks, until last week, we've played a half of pretty poor football. I think we're on the right track the way we have been playing," he said.

"It was a really disappointing first half performance in front of a fantastic crowd. There's a strong feeling among the group that we let our supporters and members down."

"Every year you go through a phase of two or three games on the trot when you don't do as well as you want to."

"We've only lost one in six, so we're not concerned about that at the moment. We have got the team, the depth that gives us lots of opportunities to make changes when we need to."

"But there's great morale in the camp and there's an abundance of skill which is the most important thing."

Melbourne's recent record in Newcastle doesn't bode well for this game, with Victory's last win at EnergyAustralia Stadium three years ago.

But Merrick sees Sunday's match as an opportunity to banish the bogey and bounce back to form.

"We haven't played well in Newcastle in the past or as consistently as we'd like to. It comes back to us going out with the confidence to do our jobs and give 100 percent to get three points. This is an ideal week to prove that we are ready to do that given our result against Sydney," he said.

The coach has firm faith that his experienced defence can continue to do the job, despite conceding three goals inside the first 20 minutes last week. He said he is more concerned about building up the attacking options, as indicated by his decision to sign attacking midfielder Marvin Angulo and Thai striker Sutee Suksomkit.

"It's more about goalscorers up front, that's the key area, we want to keep scoring goals up front, we're not going to concede three goals in four-and-a-half minutes again," Merrick said.

There will be at least one change to the starting XI this week with Robbie Kruse, who has a hamstring injury, to miss and be replaced by Tom Pondeljak.

"Tommy's been outstanding for us since he's joined. He's back to full fitness, 100 percent," Merrick said. "He not only creates opportunities and scores goals up front, he's a huge asset because he's prepared to come and help the midfield as well. Our GPS shows he's one of the hardest working players in the team."

Wing-back Evan Berger will not make the trip to Newcastle after picking up a knock at training, while Merrick said Grant Brebner is being strongly considered for a position in the starting line-up.

"We are trying to get a consistent team and a bit of continuity. The boys are playing well and pulling together. That was our first loss in six matches (against Sydney). But there's always room for improvement and if players are a little bit flat and they need a rest, then a fresh player needs to come in," he said.

"Brebs had an outstanding half when he came on the pitch. He's done the right thing to ask for a first XI position."