Merrick stands up for Victory

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has hit back at Gold Coast counterpart Miron Bleiberg following his blast on the club's playing style.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has hit back at Gold Coast counterpart Miron Bleiberg following his blast on the club's playing style.

Bleiberg likened United's 2-0 defeat to Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday to a war, described the clash as brutal and even suggested playmaker Bas van den Brink was fixed up.

But Merrick went on the front foot when quizzed on Tuesday about his thoughts on Bleiberg's comments.

"It's very disappointing that someone has a cheap shot like that every now and again, I thought he was better than that to be honest," Merrick said.

"I think Miron's comments were a surprise because they didn't reflect the game whatsoever, it was either an attempt at deflection or some sort of mind games - either way he failed miserably."

Bleiberg's criticism was even more stunning with the fact Gold Coast committed six more fouls in the match (15-9) than Victory, who had two players yellow carded and one of those Tommy Pondeljak was for dissent.

Merrick expressed his amazement at Bleiberg's thoughts on the performance of referee Peter Green.

"It's just disappointing that a coach has really said the referee was totally incompetent, he allowed a war of brutal tackles to occur," Merrick said.

"To me that's bringing the game into disrepute. I think (North Queensland Fury coach) Franz Straka got two weeks for saying and doing less."

"It's a huge disappointment he would say that about what was a very exciting game where we played some football and scored a couple of great goals."

Merrick admitted Victory would use Bleiberg's comments as motivation if they face United in the upcoming finals series.

If the ladder remains as it is with Gold Coast fourth and Victory fifth, the clubs will meet in the opening week of the finals.

Victory plays their fourth match in the space of 11 days when they host Newcastle at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

Costa Rican star Carlos Hernandez (groin) and Scottish midfielder Grant Brebner (calf) will miss through injury, but Victory welcomes back Robbie Kruse from Socceroos duty at the Asian Cup and Marvin Angulo.

"We've been forced into a couple of changes through injury, after 28 rounds we've got several players carrying knocks of some sort," Merrick said.

"This is the fourth game in 11 days, (but) because we've won the last two and scored so many goals, and had two clean sheets, they're very buoyant."

Merrick knows the loss of Brebner, who has been Victory's most consistent performer this season will be felt, but backed Angulo to make the most of his opportunity.

"Grant's been the heartbeat of the side, he's had a terrific season and keeps on keeping on," Merrick said.

"We'll bring Marvin into that role, he's a very creative player. If anything we're going to be more attacking, we're taking out a midfielder and bringing in another striker."