Time to Wait
For Melbourne Victory coach ERNIE MERRICK, this weekend gives his side the chance to draw breath before one final push to Hyundai A-League glory
It-s whether the selected players want to stand up and be counted or be a passenger. We have a very good team, but it always comes down to who-s up for it on the day.
After securing a home grand final so impressively, it-s preparation time as Melbourne Victory enjoy a weekend of rest before taking that final step to securing their second Hyundai A-League title.
While his side takes in some recovery time, coach Ernie Merrick will be an interested spectator as Adelaide United and Queensland Roar take to the field to contest the preliminary final. Not only will Merrick be able to run his eye over his grand final opponents, but it-ll give him time to mastermind how his side will ensure they make home advantage count.
Congratulations on making the grand final, how pleasing is it to host it for the second time in three years? It-s an absolute privilege to coach a team that has won so much this year already, with the Pre-Season Cup and Premier-s Plate. And now to be hosting the grand final for our fans, members and supporters who have been so loyal and turned out in numbers week in, week out, it-s a great bonus to be playing in front of them.
You-re winning many fans for the brand of football you-re playing what-s pleased you most about the way your side is playing? I think all the coaching staff really enjoys a very attacking style of football with clever inter-passing, which creates a lot of opportunities. Because you-re attacking so much you-re always going to be susceptible to counter attacks and we-d much rather that then to shut up shop at any time during games. I really appreciated the fact we-ve been able to develop a culture at the club where it-s all about scoring goals. The biggest improvement has been the midfield area, where we-ve strived to be more mobile. We-ve always had Danny and Archie upfront - who will always do a job - and we-ve always had Roddy, Kevin and Theo at the back, but the biggest change has been getting our midfield quick and technically sound to get forward and to get back defending as well.
Having failed to qualify for the finals last year is it sweeter that you-re minor premiers this season? It-s certainly always sweet when you have a successful run.
As well as playing well, the team-s showing great confidence and self belief, is it a culmination of everything coming together at the right time? I think so, (but) there are no guarantees we-re going to win a grand final. We-re certainly playing our best football; I thought the semi-final last week was probably the best game Melbourne Victory has played. This team is an even better team (than the won that won in 2007).
Do you feel you-re already setting the bar as minor premiers for next season? No I wouldn-t, I-m not very keen on inflating our egos. It-s very important that we always keep our feet on the ground and strive to do our jobs well - no matter who we-re playing against we don-t try to play above ourselves and do things that we haven-t done the whole year. We just need to do our jobs consistently and that standard of football (last week) is a very good standard of football.
How do you make sure complacency doesn-t set in? The first thing is, we-re not setting the benchmark - there are a lot of good teams in the league and you can-t lose respect for them. Secondly, to play your best football you-ve got to enjoy playing football under pressure; pressure of the levels of expectation and pressure from opposition teams and fatigue. It always comes down to individually performing a role and nothing preventing you from doing your job: whether it-s an opposition player, whether it-s circumstances, like the environment or heat, crowd or whatever; complacency only sets in when someone decides there-s a part of their role they don-t have to perform and as soon as someone decides to not do their job then the guy next to him has got two jobs to do; I know it-s a subjective term, but we try to make it a very objective thing by measuring and providing feedback on individual and collective performances.
You must be pretty confident that if your team does perform those tasks, and puts in a performance like they did last week, as well as the home advantage, that you-ve got every chance of success next week? I-m just confident that we-ll put in a good display. The bottom line is any of the players that are selected once they cross the white line it-s whether they want to stand up and be counted or be a passenger. We have a very good team, but it always comes down to who-s up for it on the day.