Pressure forges Victory on

Melbourne Victory is adamant that neither the pressure of hosting a Hyundai A-League Grand Final in front of 50,000 fans nor the tag of being overwhelming favourite heading into the match will affect the team's quest for ultimate glory.

Melbourne Victory is adamant that neither the pressure of hosting a Hyundai A-League Grand Final in front of 50,000 fans nor the tag of being overwhelming favourite heading into the match will affect the team's quest for ultimate glory.

The Victory booked their home Grand Final with a thoroughly convincing 6-0 aggregate win over Adelaide in the Major Semi Final, and it is on that performance, and the fact they also beat Adelaide three times in the regular season, that they have been installed as clear favourites for the championship against the same opponents for Saturday night's decider.

It would appear that one of the few things standing between Melbourne and a second A-League title in three years is the club's ability to cope with the burden of expectation. But coach Ernie Merrick is adamant that there is nothing but positives in the fact that Melbourne is expected to succeed.

"We have a team that has performed the most consistently throughout the year. We've won more games than anyone else and we've scored more goals than anyone else. When it comes to the Grand Final it's different again," he said.

"We know we've got the players and it's about the players performing to their level of expectation, and the expectation is high, But we prefer we have that level of expectations," he said.

"If there's expectation on you, there's pressure on you and pressure brings out the best in your performance."

It's something that striker Archie Thompson also firmly believes in. Having scored five goals in the Victory's 2006/07 Grand Final, Thompson knows all about performing on the big stage and is relishing the thought of stepping up into the spotlight again.

"We have to enjoy pressure. This is why we play the game. This is why we are professional athletes because we love these games. If you don't want to play in the Grand Final then you are in the wrong sport. We love this," Thompson said.

"We want to go into a Grand Final knowing they are going to fear us, we've got the confidence, we've had a good preparation, we've had good results over them, I'm just like, bring it on!"

Merrick has been very conscious not to overemphasise the 6-0 Grand Final success over Adelaide two years ago. The Melbourne coach knows that his players learned some key lessons that night, but history can only help so much.

"Grand finals, history makes no difference. Once you step up, you cross that line, and the whistle goes, history is not a factor. It's about what you do from then on. Fortunately, we've got very composed players, very senior players, who have been there before and have passed that experience on to the other players," Merrick said.

"The main thing is that we know what we are capable of, we know what we are good at, particularly in an attacking sense, and nothing should prevent our players from demonstrated what they are capable of. It's been firmly focussed on the role and no matter what happens, you don't change what your plan is."