Merrick: Pressure on Reds

Ernie Merrick has ramped up the pressure on Adelaide ahead of the final two games of the season, saying the onus is on the Reds to hold onto top spot and claim the Hyundai A-League Premiership.

Ernie Merrick has ramped up the pressure on Adelaide ahead of the final two games of the season, saying the onus is on the Reds to hold onto top spot and claim the Hyundai A-League Premiership.

Melbourne trails Adelaide by two points with just two matches remaining and both sides play Central Coast and Wellington in the next fortnight. But despite having a points advantage, the Reds face a tough challenge considering both their games are away from home, while the Victory have both their games at Telstra Dome.

Merrick said that Adelaide's 0-0 draw with Queensland on Wednesday would have Aurelio Vidmar and his men looking long and hard at the Hyundai A-League table.

In contrast, Merrick said his men know they must just win their final two games, so Adelaide has to do the same to ensure its takes the Premiership.

"0-0 was probably the ideal result for us, it's certainly makes first and second place, an opportunity there for us. It's very important we win our remaining two games. It makes things very interesting," he said.

"We led the league ladder for most of the year, and we were the ones under pressure from the team in second and third spot. Now Adelaide are under that pressure to hold onto it."

"If we win our two games, no-one can knock us out of second spot. Our destiny is in our hands, Adelaide will find out now what it's like to be at the top with people trying to knock them off to secure a spot in the finals, like Wellington."

Merrick's gamesmanship late in the season may come of somewhat of a surprise from the usually straight-faced Victory coach, who celebrated his 56th birthday on Thursday. But he is certainly not upping the ante on his own players, who he said are well aware of what is required of them.

"We'll just continue to focus on the fact that we've got the Mariners tomorrow night and Wellington at home as well. We need to win both those games to secure the double chance. Adelaide's still in the box seat regarding finishing top," he said.

The extra spring in Merrick's step may come from the fact that the final two games of the season are played at home, where Melbourne has lost just twice all season and has won its past three against Sydney, Adelaide and Queensland.

"We've played extremely well at home, our last three games at home were outstanding, under severe pressure. We play well at home and we're certainly happy we have these two remaining games at home," he said.

Merrick has called Michael Thwaite into his squad for the suspended Matthew Kemp for the Mariners game and the Gold Coast-bound defender is likely to play a starting role given Merrick's suggestion that his side needs a big strong defence to counteract the influence of Matt Simon and Dylan Macallister.

The other selection change could see Carlos Hernandez replaced by Ney Fabiano in the starting line-up. Merrick indicated Ney Fabiano had done nothing wrong in his recent cameos as a substitute and that he was less than satisfied with Hernandez's efforts in the match against Perth last week.