Grand Final-bound Newcastle Jets deliver on Merrick's 'good feeling'
Newcastle Jets' stunning rise from wooden spooners to championship contenders has caught most by surprise, but not manager Ernie Merrick.
The wily Scot is set to lead a Grand Final team for the fourth time after orchestrating Newcastle's come-from-behind 2-1 win over Melbourne City in a superb Semi Final clash at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.
It will be the club's first decider since 2008, defying the pre-season expectations that came with finishing bottom last term.
Merrick, who was appointed in May last year, saw enough from the outset of his tenure to have full belief in a climb up the ladder, although he admits he didn't foresee the journey lasting quite this long.
"I expected we would have a good run this year. I didn't expect to get in the Grand Final," he said.
"I thought we would make big steps forward from where they've been in the past few years.
"Because we had the right players, the right team, the right coaches and the right fitness staff, I had a good feeling right from the start.
"To be in the Grand Final is a real bonus. Now we're in with a real chance of doing something."
Merrick is almost certain to be without goalkeeper Jack Duncan after he tore a quad during the first half on Friday night, meaning Glen Moss - who played under Merrick at Wellington Phoenix - is likely to don the gloves.
City, meanwhile, were left to a rue a lost opportunity as they missed out on a maiden Grand Final appearance.
Warren Joyce felt his side struggled to manage the big moments, a recurring theme throughout City's campaign.
"If you look at some of the bigger games we've played they're the things that have hurt us," he said.
"Throughout the season we've had instances like that we've got to be better at.
"It's part of growing as a player, and being in these situations [is how you learn to] deal with them.
"It's different in a normal league game than a Semi Final with 20,000 people here."