March 02, 2015 12:09:28 UK
Ernie Merrick saw Wellington Phoenix pick up their first ever away win against Melbourne Victory, then insisted the championship was not in the club’s sights.
Merrick, who won the double of premiership and championship twice in three seasons as Victory coach, says Wellington are aiming for a top-four finish.
The battle for the Premier’s Plate is the closest it has been in years, with the top five clubs now separated by just four points.
Wellington’s 3-2 win at AAMI Park prevented Victory from taking over top spot from Perth Glory and took Merrick’s side, who are 8.00 to win the Grand Final, level with their opponents and Adelaide United on 33 points.
It halted a run of four winless games for the Phoenix and took them above Sydney FC into fourth spot – the top four finishers all get home games in the finals.
But Merrick insisted: “We haven’t looked forward to the championship yet, it’s just about playing consistent football. The focus is on playing in the finals and if we can, being in the top four.
“That’s what the players have set their objectives for, I’m not going to raise it any higher. Winning the championship is not in our mind at all.”
The Phoenix coach said the significance of the game, where Nathan Burns notched the winner with his 11th goal of the season, was that he rated Victory as the best team in the league.
He added: “Victory are a team that commit numbers forward, that’s why they score goals. But you have to leave yourself light on at the back to do that.”
It was the perfect start for Wellington to a tricky three-game spell that will also see them take on Adelaide United and leaders Perth Glory.
The Phoenix are 2.70 to beat Adelaide, who are 2.50 with the draw 3.40.
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