Merrick: Get your head straight

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has put the onus on his players to break the psychological hold the trip to Perth has had on the Victory, who go into Sunday's clash at ME Bank Stadium having not won a match there in over three years.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has put the onus on his players to break the psychological hold the trip to Perth has had on the Victory, who go into Sunday's clash at ME Bank Stadium having not won a match there in over three years.

Merrick admitted that there was a psychological element to the fact Melbourne has lost its past four matches against the Glory away from home and has called on his players as individuals to focus on the task at hand and break the hoodoo.

"We've had a good run, we've won five out of the last six games, but Perth is our bogey side and we have to change that, I think it was the 24th of September 2006, our only win ever over there and we've got to fix that," he said.

"I would there's definitely something the players have to address individually. Collectively as a team, I'll talk about a few things, but really it comes down to the players making sure they don't allow a trip or a journey over the Nullarbor to affect them."

The club has analysed its preparations for away games closely and Merrick said that he doesn't believe the poor record in Perth is related to physiological reasons associated with travel.

"We've found with all of our away trips that we perform best if we travel the day before, play and leave on the first flight out, whether it be overnight or the next morning. That formula has worked since season two so we won't change that," he said.

Melbourne, which actually won a pre-season game in Perth last season, played well in its trip west to take on the Glory in August, dominating the game, only to be stung by two goals from Branko Jelic. Merrick said the issue in that match was his players failed to play a consistent 90 minutes.

"We played really well, particularly the first half. Again it wasn't 90 minutes of sustained pressure. We really do that every week. The first ten minutes of games we've scored five goals this season and in the last five minutes we've scored six goals," he said.

"So we know we are capable and have got the level of fitness to start 100 miles and hour and get into attacking goal-scoring positions and we know we can do that at the end, it's just that we haven't been able to do that in Perth and that's something we want to work on."

"Perth's having a good year and we always know it's going to be a tough game, but we've just struggled to put 90 minutes of consistent football together over there."

Melbourne won't make any specific selection plans for breaking the Perth bogey with Merrick backing his team's current form and the fact it was able to end a similar run of outs in Newcastle two weeks ago.

"You wouldn't want to change with recent run of success. On the road, we are doing really well. It comes down to individual attitude of the players, they-ve really got to their own heads right for this one," he said.

"We know we can do it. We're playing good football home and away. We did well when we needed to against Adelaide and Newcastle, but I don't know sometimes you psych yourself out in that trip, but there's no excuses we need to do well over in Perth."

Rody Vargas, who missed his first match in 44 last week, will come back into the side, with Surat Sukha to miss at least a week with a minor hamstring strain. Merrick would not be drawn on whether he would go with three centre backs, or the back four he employed against Adelaide last week.