Ton up for Victory, Merrick

Melbourne Victory and its coach Ernie Merrick celebrate a joint milestone in Friday's U-NITE clash with Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium, with both of them reaching the 100-game milestone.


Melbourne Victory and its coach Ernie Merrick celebrate a joint milestone in Friday's U-NITE clash with Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium, with both of them reaching the 100-game milestone.

Merrick becomes the second coach in the Hyundai A-League to reach the 100-game mark having been in charge of Melbourne since its first-ever game against Sydney in August 2005. Along the way, Merrick has celebrated two championships, two premierships and a Pre-Season Cup.

The man himself is a little disbelieving of making that mark and says the success that he has achieved is as much a tribute to the club as it is to his talents as a coach.

"100 games who would have thought I would have lasted this long?" he said. "It's been a terrific club to be associated with, we've built up a fantastic membership and support and a couple of championships. Just to a part of it has just been terrific. I'm looking forward to this one and perhaps many more."

"It doesn't get much better than Melbourne Victory, it's a great staff, a great bunch of players, and I'm looking forward to the new stadium as well. There's a lot to look forward to."

Merrick admits that it has been a rollercoaster ride and that early in his tenure he could have been headed for the door. But he praised the Melbourne Victory board for sticking with him and believes that stability has been key to the club's success.

"Statistics have proved that the longest-serving coaches are the one's that have the best records and have the best results, over time. It's been terrific that the board stuck with me after season one, we haven't really looked back since then," he said.

And Merrick thinks the perfect way to celebrate the club's 100 games is with a win against the same team where it all began at the Sydney Football Stadium four years ago.

"We just love the big games, it's just going to be a big month for us. We've got three points off the Roar, we're going to have a real go at Sydney who are playing well this year under the new coach. We'll have Adelaide later in the month, we live for these big games and Etihad Stadium will come alive," he said.

Merrick expects that he will have much the same XI who took on Brisbane last week, but will most likely include Evan Berger, who has not played in the Hyundai A-League since having surgery to repair a hernia.

"I can't see too many changes in the first XI, but we'll have Evan back on the bench this week. We wanted young Mate Dugandzic on the bench as an additional striker last week because we wanted to have extra strikers against the Roar, but this week it will be good to have Evan back on the bench," he said.