Merrick: Fred has been replaced

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick believes his team has more than adequately replaced championship winning midfielder Fred over the past two seasons as the Victory prepares to face its former star man for the first time on Friday night.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick believes his team has more than adequately replaced championship winning midfielder Fred over the past two seasons as the Victory prepares to face its former star man for the first time on Friday night.

Fred, the Brazilian maestro best remembered for setting up four of Archie Thompson's five goals in the Victory's memorable 6-0 drubbing of Adelaide in the 2006/07 grand final, has signed a six-match guest stint with Wellington Phoenix and will take on his old club when Melbourne travels to New Zealand for Friday night's Hyundai A-League clash.

The 29-year-old left Melbourne after the championship winning season to join American club DC United and Merrick is determined to prove his team is just as potent a force without Fred in their ranks this season after a dip in form without him last season.

Merrick believes Fred has been given too much credit for the Victory's championship win two years ago saying his current squad is just as good if not better than that team despite no longer having the Brazilian star in the squad.

"I think the last memory everyone has of Fred is when Archie scored five goals (in the grand final against Adelaide in Fred's last game for the Victory) and Fred somehow got the credit for most of that," he said after training on Wednesday.

Merrick said it was easily forgotten that Fred 'took eight weeks to settle into our team' and also played alongside two other outstanding midfielders that season in Grant Brebner and skipper Kevin Muscat.

"And we had two fantastic strikers that were our top goalscorers that year in Archie and Dan (Allsopp) but despite all those stats it (the Victory's 06/07 championship win) all (seemingly) came down to Fred," he said.

"He was a loss but I think we have more than adequately replaced him."

Merrick however admits the Brazilian is a good short-term signing for the Phoenix, who are in with a chance of reaching the Hyundai A-League finals for the first time this season.

"He is the type of player they (Wellington) needed because he is a hard worker and it will be very interesting to play against him," he said.

Merrick denied there were any hard feelings from the Victory towards Fred despite him leaving the club straight after the championship success and then choosing to sign a guest stint with a rival Hyundai A-League club this season.

"Fred is a good person and was a great player for us but we are a different team now," he said.

Melbourne, which leads the competition by three points, heads to New Zealand with the luxury of having a full squad to choose from with Costa Rican international Jose Luiz Lopez - who missed last week's 2-1 win over Central Coast due to international duties - returning to the squad in place of youngster Leigh Broxham.