Merrick will stick to the basics

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has played down the pre-match focus on the need to score heavily in the club's final round clash with Wellington Phoenix, arguing a sense of proportion is what's required.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has played down the pre-match focus on the need to score heavily in the club's final round clash with Wellington Phoenix, arguing a sense of proportion is what's required.

The second-placed Victory go into Friday night's encounter trailing Adelaide United on goal difference alone - plus-11 to plus-10.

Merrick believes there's nothing self-fulfilling about pumping up the Victory's attack and the team would be better served by sticking to the basics.

"This idea that the pressure is on us to score lots of goals, we can't go out with that mindset," said Merrick.   "It's very important that we go out to play our normal home game-type football which is high intensity, inter-passing with trying to achieve lots of shooting opportunities in the box."   "If we play the way we normally play, everything else should fall into place."   Merrick confirmed that Matthew Kemp would return to add some 'attacking flair' to the Melbourne squad but he stressed that a stronger offensive emphasis would need to be balanced at the back.   "We'll see if we can keep a clean sheet again - we kept a clean sheet (against Central Coast) last week," he said.   "Once we score one, we'll see if we can another one and then another one and play that brand rather than all the permutations."

With five teams including the fifth-placed Phoenix still in the running for the semis and three - Adelaide, Melbourne and Queensland Roar - in contention for the premiership, the finals, according to Merrick, have effectively started a week early.

"There's no doubt that this game is as important, if not more important than any finals game because it gives us the opportunity to score a place in the top two and if we're in the top two it gives us a much better run in the finals, obviously."   "It's as important as any finals game."   While Merrick is alert to the danger posed by the competition's leading scorer, Wellington striker Shane Smeltz, he doesn't subscribe to the view that if you stop Smeltz you stop the Phoenix.   "I know other coaches have said that, but I don't see it that way," said Merrick.   "I think that's not paying much respect to other players in the team."   "Our job is to try and keep a clean sheet and score goals and that's what we've got to do."