Victory on notice

Melbourne Victory captain Kevin Muscat has said no-one in his team should feel their place in the starting XI is secure following a four-match winless run heading into Saturday's super classic against Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne Victory captain Kevin Muscat has said no-one in his team should feel their place in the starting XI is secure following a four-match winless run heading into Saturday's super classic against Sydney FC at Etihad Stadium.

Muscat pulled no punches in his assessment of his team's performance in the 2-1 derby loss to Heart last week and said that everyone should feel they are playing to keep their spot in the team in the clash against the out-of-form Sky Blues.

"I think after last weekend, we are all on notice. You are only as good as your last game and after last weekend, you would expect everyone is looking over their shoulder," he said.

"It was gut-wrenching for us to lose that one. We've put so much energy into trying to perform and get the right result and it wasn't to be. We failed. We certainly have to get over that quickly as hard as it has been, because it's another massive game for us. "

The skipper gave a frank assessment of the mood in the camp after the loss to Heart, but hopes the hurt of that defeat can help lift the camp.

"You come in after a week like that and it's been difficult for the management and the senior players to lift the boys. It does hurt. It cuts deep but the great thing about sport is that we have an opportunity to put that right," he said.

"We've got to turn the performance around. There's no guarantees about results, but we-ve got to turn that performance around. We've worked on a number of things during the week to try and rectify things that went drastically wrong last week. I'm confident that if we get back to somewhere near our best then the result will look after itself."

Despite Muscat's suggestion that players were on notice, coach Ernie Merrick doesn-t appear inclined to make radical changes against a winless Sydney side ahead of Saturday's match.

Defender Surat Sukha could be rested after injuring his back last week, while Mate Dugandzic is pushing for a spot in the starting XI, possibly at the expense of Tom Pondeljak.

Despite attacking trio Carlos Hernandez, Ricardinho and Robbie Kruse having only scored three goals between them and the entire Melbourne team going through the past four weeks with just one goal, Merrick has faith in his attacking troika to start scoring.

"I wish I could transfer training to the match conditions. Robbie and Ricky and Carlos are combining so well at training. Eventually that will translate in match performances," he said.

Muscat agreed that it was overly simplistic to suggest that Victory's problems were purely about strikers failing to score goals.

"There's no doubt one of the areas we have highlighted is putting the ball in the back of the net. If you take the last two games, we weren't in goalscoring opportunities anywhere near enough. The only thing that is consistent is that we have not scored enough goals, but it's only been a few games where we have not got into those opportunities and have let ourselves down," he said.