Merrick: Bring on Sydney

Melbourne's 2008/09 Hyundai A-League campaign kicks off against Sydney on Saturday and Victory coach Ernie Merrick can't wait to resume his rivalry with Sydney and its coach John Kosmina.

Melbourne's 2008/09 Hyundai A-League campaign kicks off against Sydney on Saturday and Victory coach Ernie Merrick can't wait to resume his rivalry with Sydney and its coach John Kosmina.

Speaking at the launch of the new season in Sydney, Merrick said that his side gets something extra out of clashes with its two main rivals, Adelaide and Sydney, and considering Kosmina has coached both sides, there is a real incentive to kick the season off with a win.

"I think it's great having these healthy rivalries. We've got two great rivals that we love to play against, and they love to play against us, and that's Adelaide and Sydney. So I couldn't think of a better blockbuster start then Melbourne versus Sydney in Sydney," Merrick said.

"We are certainly looking forward to it coming off the back of a Pre-Season Cup championship."

While Melbourne boasts an excellent record against Sydney, having lost just one match from their nine previous encounters, Merrick has plenty of respect for a new-look Sydney side.

"Whatever team Sydney put out they are going to very tough at home in front of their own crowd," he said. "I think we've got the team to do well, but I would never underestimate Sydney on their home soil."

While not willing to reveal his hand too early in the week, Merrick said he has no intention on getting his players to sit back in Saturday's game. He said the best way to play against any Sydney side was to attack, and Victory fans can expect similar tactics in the season opener.

"I can't give too much away. I think on the day, it's what team is really up for it. What team, what group of individuals can perform under pressure. That's the key to it," he said.

"The other thing is, you have to attack Sydney. You can't sit back. Every time we've played them, we've played them nine times, lost one, drawn four, won four, we've always played attacking football and that's what we're going to do this time. I think on the day, it's who's up for it and we're carrying the momentum of the Pre-Season Cup into the first game."

Meanwhile, Merrick revealed that Kevin Muscat was no certainty to start in Saturday's game and his hamstring injury will be fully assessed later in the week.

"He's been training hard, but we've never thrown him in a full game since his second or third friendly trail match. He hasn't played any games in the Pre-Season cup. He's got to get through 2-3 hard sessions, he's got a double session today, a heavy session on Wednesday and we should know by Wednesday-Thursday if he's right," he said.

Victory memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are currently available from the Victory Shop, 236 Swan Street, Richmond, by calling 1300 GO MVFC or online by clicking here.