Victory try to re-group

Melbourne Victory's Adrian Leijer and Archie Thompson have spoken of the impact former coach Ernie Merrick's sudden departure has had on the playing group.

Melbourne Victory's Adrian Leijer and Archie Thompson have spoken of the impact former coach Ernie Merrick's sudden departure has had on the playing group.

Merrick was relieved of his duties on Saturday after six seasons at the helm with former Qantas Socceroos defender Mehmet Durakovic handed the reins for the remainder of Victory's AFC Champions League group stage campaign.

Leijer, who blossomed from raw teenager to senior figure under Merrick's tutelage, admitted the past few days had proved tough for Victory's players as the coach was handed his marching orders following a 5-1 thrashing by Gamba Osaka in the AFC Asian Champions League group stage match.

"What's happened the past week has been a distraction, but that's football," Leijer said.

"It always is a shock (when the coach goes), Ernie-s been at the club for six years and done a fantastic job, now the change has happened it's up to us as professionals to go about it the right way."

"Our job as players is to go out there and play, what's decided above our heads is the board's control. We have to go out there, show Mehm respect, respect what he does and put on a good show. He's been good, we haven't had a lot of time, but he's changing a few things and it gives us a bit of freshness leading into the next five games."

That notion of freshness was backed up by Victory striker Archie Thompson.

"It was obviously disappointing because from my point of view, and for Kevin (Muscat) and a few of the other inaugural players, we've played under Ernie for so long, so it's disappointing that he left the way he did," said Thompson on a Foxsports web chat on Monday.

"Personally, he wanted to right the wrongs from the game against Gamba, so it was unfortunate that didn't pan out that way."

"(But) from a personal point of view I thought it was getting a little stale, and maybe we needed someone fresh with new ideas to shake it up a bit."

"We had huge success with Ernie, but the game is evolving and maybe it was time for change."

Durakovic, previously in charge of the Victory's National Youth League team since 2008, has had just two days preparation to prepare the team for Tuesday night's high-pressure showdown against Korean outfit Jeju United at Etihad Stadium.

But the man capped 64 times by the national team during his playing career is not daunted by the task awaiting Victory, rather relishing the opportunity presented to him.

"It's exciting to be given such a given such a great role, coaching one of the best clubs, not just in Australia, but in Asia," Durakovic said.

"It's a big responsibility for myself, but I've got the full support of the players, the coaching staff and we'll do the best job we can in these five games in the ACL."

Durakovic was complementary when asked about Merrick's exit and the legacy he has left at Victory.

"It's a bit awkward to be fair (coming into the position) because I think Ernie has done a fantastic job," Durakovic said.

"I've learned a lot off him and I wish him all the best - I've just got to move forward with the players we've got."

The new coach admitted there would be a 'fresh' approach to Victory's play and it is expected to start with a new formation, Durakovic tipped to play a 4-4-2 instead of the 3-4-3 or 4-3-3 preferred by the former coach.

Not that he was giving a lot away when asked on the make-up of his first team.

"There will be a few changes, some new faces come into the side and some structural changes - you guys will see on match day," Durakovic said.

But Durakovic did say that apart from a slight hamstring niggle to Robbie Kruse, Victory had no injury concerns, meaning industrious Scottish midfielder Grant Brebner is fit and should return to the starting line-up.

Like Victory, Jeju United opened their ACL campaign on a losing note and coach Park Kyung-Hoon spoke of the importance on leaving Australia with at least one point, if not three.

"We should have beaten Tianjin Teda, we didn't make the most of our chances - it is very important we score early (here)," Park said.

"Melbourne has a new coach and while we expect some differences from them to when they played Gamba Osaka, we have adopted a strategy we hope that get us something from this match."