April 04, 2015 11:46:54 UK
Coach Ernie Merrick is confident Wellington Phoenix will deliver the perfect response to last weekend’s surprise 3-0 home defeat to Sydney FC when they take on Melbourne Victory.
The A-League leaders were without a host of first-choice players against the Sky Blues due to international call-ups.
They get those players, including Michael McGlinchey and leading scorer Nathan Burns, back for the Westpac Stadium clash against Merrick’s former club.
And history tells the coach that such defeats at the business end of a season can spur teams on to success.
I learnt on those occasions that it wasn’t the result that mattered but how the team reacted to it.
Merrick led Victory to three Grand Finals, winning twice, and said: “Leading into each of those finals series’ we always lost one or two of these games in similar circumstances to last Sunday.”
Phoenix captain Andrew Durante was in a Newcastle Jets side that beat Victory 4-0 before the 2007 finals, but Merrick’s side went on to win the Grand Final 6-0.
The coach said: “I learnt on those occasions that it wasn’t the result that mattered but how the team reacted to it.”
Wellington are 2.40 to beat Melbourne Victory, who are 2.80 with the draw 3.40.
Merrick believes his players are up for a fight and have learned a lesson from the defeat to the Sky Blues, adding: “They don’t want to lose the opportunity they have carved out for themselves with a brand of football that has made people on both sides of the Tasman take notice.”
The Phoenix may have started the season with no higher hopes than making the Finals Series – especially after finishing next to bottom last term.
However, Merrick says a top-two finish is now their goal, as no team finishing lower in the table has gone on to win an A-League championship.
Wellington are 11.00 to beat Victory 1-0.
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