Merrick never doubted

It may have been a lot closer than two years ago but Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick said he never doubted his team would clinch its second Hyundai A-League championship on Saturday night.

It may have been a lot closer than two years ago but Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick said he never doubted his team would clinch its second Hyundai A-League championship on Saturday night.

Melbourne's 1-0 win over Adelaide in the 2008/09 grand final - thanks to a spectacular 59th-minute goal from Tom Pondeljak - was in complete contrast to the 6-0 mauling of the Reds in the 2006/07 grand final and the 6-0 aggregate win in the Major Semi-Final just a fortnight ago.

But Merrick was rapt to see his team do it the hard way - particularly after Danny Allsopp's sending off in the 65th minute meant Melbourne lost the one man advantage it had enjoyed since the tenth minute when Cristiano was sent off for elbowing Rody Vargas.

Merrick said the tough win on Saturday night proved to everyone that Melbourne not only had the skill and class for which it is already renowned for but also the mental toughness and character to go with it.

"I have to say I never had doubts about tonight at any stage," Merrick said after becoming the first coach to win two A-League championships.

"I had my most relaxed day and I thoroughly enjoyed it."

Merrick said his team showed all its championship quality early in the second half when it somehow hung on as Adelaide threatened to take a shock lead but was denied by two great saves from Victory keeper Michael Theoklitos.

"It was one of those games that wasn't pretty, it was an edgy game and a tough game."

"When they went down to ten men they were very hard to break down but our boys hung in there and Tommy scored a fantastic goal and we gutsed it right out to the end and that is a sign of a championship team."

Melbourne also became the first team to win all three trophies up for grabs in the one A-League season, as Merrick acknowledged post-game.

"From the Pre-Season Cup to the Premier's Plate (for finishing on top of the ladder after the home and away season) to now this (winning the championship), it has just been a great year for Melbourne Victory Football Club, for our players and for our supporters," Merrick said.

Melbourne Victory skipper Kevin Muscat, who played one of his greatest games, agreed with Merrick that the win was never in doubt - despite the closeness of the scoreline.

"From where I was, it was only a matter of time before we scored a goal and we played some excellent stuff in the first half," he said.

"When you are defending in your back third for a long time (like Adelaide did) something has to give and it gave and then we held on."