Merrick: Muscat makes us better

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick says the return of Kevin Muscat and a change in tactics were significant factors in his side's 2-0 victory over Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick says the return of Kevin Muscat and a change in tactics were significant factors in his side's 2-0 victory over Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night.

Muscat had missed five games with a hamstring injury but was back to his combative best against the Reds.

Merrick said the veteran remains a vital cog in the Victory's line-up.

"In those other games we were selling cheap goals at the back, particularly from set plays," Merrick said.

"Kevin is just a huge addition to our backline because everyone is that five percent sharper when he's around and I think Adrian Leijer and Rody (Vargas) just played out of their skins as well."

"He certainly makes a difference there's no doubt about that but I think we've played good football without him."

"He's a key player in our team and if he's not in, it's not the same team."

Merrick said some pre-match preparation - designed to cause a mismatch in Adelaide United's back third - also helped the side record its second win of the season.

"I don't think there is any secret, it's just that we knew Adelaide had a big, tall, strong backline so we didn't want to match them there," Merrick said.

"So what we did was the opposite, we went with a very mobile, three-player attack that interchanged Archie (Thompson), 'Wardy' (Nick Ward), and Tommy (Pondeljak) with Carlos (Hernandez) in behind."

"I'm not saying we are going to play like that every week but we'd worked on it all week and it was working a treat."

"I think it worked well for us and we shut down the fullbacks getting forward in the second half."

Meanwhile Ward sheepishly recalled his first-half goal at the post-match media conference.

At the sixth minute he tried to centre a ball from the right side but watched with delight as it floated past unsuspecting Adelaide United goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic and into the net.

"I've been practicing them after training, it was a half shot, half cross," Ward said.

It was this freakish goal that put the Victory on the front foot but Ward agreed the team's defensive effort also contributed to the result.

"We've sort of had lapses at the back," Ward said. "We've defended quite a few corners and free kicks and the boys were a lot sharper with headers, no-one sort of freaked whereas in a couple of the games things were dropping and strikers were putting them in."