Merrick wants big January

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick admits the closely-spaced home games against Queensland and Adelaide are the two biggest of the season for Victory, but wants points from each of the final five games of the season.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick admits the closely-spaced home games against Queensland and Adelaide are the two biggest of the season for Victory, but wants points from each of the final five games of the season.

Melbourne is currently equal second on the table and well poised for a tilt at its second Hyundai A-League championship after a stirring win over Sydney last week. But the next five days will go a long way in determining the make-up of the top four with Victory hosting Adelaide and Queensland.

Merrick knows the importance of strong performances against the Roar on Friday and the Reds next Tuesday, but such is the tight nature of the run to the finals, Merrick said the focus must remain on performing well in each and every game in January.

"More or less, they are crucial games for us. But there's five games to pick up points to finish in the finals. If we do well, we'll finish in the top two. The next two are very, very important, even the away games to Perth and the home games against Central Coast and Wellington," he said.

Prior to the win over Sydney, Melbourne lost three games on the road against teams currently outside the top four. That's proof enough that no opponent in the Hyundai A-League can be taken lightly.

"I don't look at who's in and who's out, it's a real concentration on what we can do and achieve," Merrick said about the run to the finals.

A points total of 30 has been good enough to get teams into the finals in all three A-League seasons to date, meaning logic would suggest Victory needs just another four to assure its spot in the post-season action. But that logic is not in Merrick's mind.

"I've never looked at gaining points, rather than on a week in, week out basis. It's hard to say that 'this many points gets us in the finals'. We've got to pick up points every game in the final five matches," he said.

There were plenty of questions raised about Victory's title chances during that three-game losing run in December but Merrick is confident all of them were answered in the courageous performance against Sydney.

"We've been talking week-in, week out about getting the eleven players on the field up for it and eleven players individually doing the job, and collectively that transforming into a good performance from the whole team," he said.

"They did that. Everyone that came off the bench was outstanding. All 14 players used were outstanding."