Merrick seeks Sydney rebound

Melbourne Victory manager Ernie Merrick has backed his side to bounce back from their loss to the Melbourne Heart when they face traditional rivals Sydney FC on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne Victory manager Ernie Merrick has backed his side to bounce back from their loss to the Melbourne Heart when they face traditional rivals Sydney FC on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium.

The Victory have scored just once in their last four matches, are winless in over a month and face a Sky Blues outfit desperate to win their first match of the season.

Merrick is tipping his side to thrive under the pressure in a replay of last year's Hyundai A-League Grand Final when Sydney FC won on penalties.

"I think our team responds under a lot of pressure," Merrick said.

"That's probably why we do so well in finals. We like that sort of pressure."

Merrick said his side was looking forward to Saturday night's match as they attempt to reverse the result of last year's dramatic finale and spoke with fondness about the rivalry his side have built with Sydney.

"It is a great rivalry," Merrick said. "Sydney has always been a traditional rival of ours. We always have a great crowd, I think it was 30,000 last year. We are hoping for another fantastic crowd."

"Both teams play good attacking quality football. It will be nice entertainment but we do intend to change around the grand final result."

This match date marks exactly five years to the day when Victory burst onto the Melbourne sporting scene with a 5-0 trouncing of Sydney FC at Olympic Park and Merrick is hopeful his strikers can transfer their training form onto the pitch as he attempts to replicate that sunny day in October.

"I wish I could transfer training to match conditions," he said.

"Robbie (Kruse) and Riccy (Ricardinho) and Carlos (Hernandez) are combining so well at training and eventually that will translate into match performance."

Both Merrick and Victory captain Kevin Muscat both lauded the Etihad Stadium surface with praise on Thursday with Muscat saying the surface was in 'very good condition'.

"Etihad has been the site of some great battles. The surface is looking first-class," Merrick said.

The Scotsman admitted that he will most likely rest Thai international Surat Sukha but declared he is happy with Grant Brebner and Billy Celeski's midfield partnership and will not make wholesale changes.

"We will have a look at Surat but he has got a bit of a back injury. I will probably rest him for a week but I haven't decided. "

"At the moment Brebs and Billy are playing really well together. I can't see me changing that. I'm really happy with the two of them regarding creative play. We will allow one poor performance in the middle and that happened last week but I think they've done a great job."

The Victory were backed by a noisy away section and their fans filled the majority of AAMI Park in Friday's loss to the Hyundai A-League's newest side.

"We felt as though we let our crowd down. It was great to have them supporting us like that," Merrick said.

If there is any team that the Victory have had a huge rivalry with, it is Sydney FC - and a victory on Saturday would repay their fans for their loyal and unwavering support.