Merrick: We won't relax

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick believes complacency poses a bigger threat to his team than over-confidence as it prepares to tackle Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Friday night.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick believes complacency poses a bigger threat to his team than over-confidence as it prepares to tackle Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Friday night.

Melbourne could be forgiven for feeling bullet-proof having just pummeled early-season title favourite Gold Coast 4-0 and won five of its past six matches.

And while Merrick is an advocate for an extra shot of confidence to permeate throughout the squad, the Victory coach won't tolerate complacency - especially against a team that hasn't been beaten at home in 13 months.

But Merrick anticipates that the strength of his leadership group will ensure complacency isn't an issue come kick-off on Friday night.

"I've never, ever thought that over-confidence was a problem. The more confidence players have, the better," Merrick said from Wellington.

"But certainly complacency is something that can occur and it's never been allowed in our camp in the four-and-a-half years I've been around."

"That's partly because of the coaches involved but I think it's more because of the leadership group and the strength of people like (Kevin) Muscat, Archie Thompson, Grant Brebner, Rody Vargas."

"And now the likes of Adrian Leijer and Kempy (Matthew Kemp) who's joining our leadership group so complacency never occurs because where it starts is at training and we never have that at training."

The absence of complacency could have something to do with the position Melbourne finds itself in at the moment.

The Victory enjoy a cushy five-point break at the top of the ladder and Merrick believes the team is in even better shape than the treble-winning side was in at this stage last season.

"We've been very consistent this year, we've got 30 points now," he said.

"At the same stage last season, when we won the treble, we only had 26."

"We've actually conceded one less goal this year than we did last year."

The Victory have been boosted by the news that defender Matthew Kemp will be available for the clash with the Phoenix after he recovered from a groin injury.

Other changes to the line-up see Surat Sukha replacing the injured Grant Brebner, Tom Pondeljak starting on the bench and Mate Dugandzic making way for Matthew Foschini.

Despite the bolstering of the team, Merrick is under no illusions as to how tough the task is that confronts Melbourne.

"Ricki Herbert is a very good coach who's done a very good job both with Wellington Phoenix and the All Whites," Merrick said.

"I think he's instilled in the team a typical New Zealand attitude of 'let's fight for everything here, every scrap, let's battle'."

"Tomorrow will very much be a game of whose midfield fires up."