Merrick: ‘Victory better team’ than City

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick believes Melbourne Victory are a better team than Melbourne City going into the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.

City eased past Merrick’s Phoenix 3-0 on Easter Monday to move equal top with Roar.

And Victory in sixth all but assured their finals campaign with a 2-0 win over Wanderers on Good Friday to move six points clear of Sydney FC in seventh, in what is shaping as one of the most open Finals Series in competition history.

MATCH REPORT: Fornaroli smashes a brace as City go top

Speaking after the City game, Merrick handed John van’ t Schip’s side a backhander by saying their bitter cross-town rivals are more of a danger at the business end of the season.

“Anyone in the top six could win it,” Merrick told reporters. 

“[But] I still think Victory has a better squad and a better team.

“It’s just my experience of knowing what Victory can do under the pump and under pressure.

“But it’s good to see Brisbane Roar and Wanderers challenging as well and Perth Glory are just having a great run.”

Bruno Fornaroli

As for the City loss, Merrick said midfielder Vince Lia was his best player but bemoaned his side’s inability to get a toehold on the game.

“It got to a stage where we were virtually defending most of the first half and we couldn’t get a hold of the ball.

“So we fixed that at half time and we got a lot more play in the midfield in the first 15-25 minutes of the second half and we looked like we could create something.”

Merrick added the second half penalty “killed” their chances of a comeback when Zullo went down in the box and Fornaroli converted for 2-0.

“And we never really threatened the goal. I don’t think Sorensen had a save to make in the second half or even the first half.”

In injury news, Ben Sigmund left the pitch early in the first half with Merrick saying the defender will have tests in the next few days.