Merrick: We were poor

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has pulled no punches following his team’s 2-1 loss to Melbourne Heart on Friday night, labelling his team’s performance ‘poor’.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has pulled no punches following his team’s 2-1 loss to Melbourne Heart on Friday night, labelling his team’s performance ‘poor’.

Goals just on 10 minutes into each half to John Aloisi and then Alex Terra earned the Hyundai A-League’s new boys all three points, despite Robbie Kruse’s second-half equaliser, and Merrick was far from happy when he spoke afterwards because his team had failed to earn at least a point.

“Credit to Heart, they closed us down, they stopped our passing game and we just couldn’t get into a rhythm or flow,” Merrick said.

“In the first half they seemed to shut us down in the middle and they were creating chances on the flanks very well, both flanks.”

Second-half substitute Geoff Kellaway was put through on goal almost immediately after coming on by Carlos Hernandez only to hesitate and miss his chance while Hernandez himself got on the end of an Adrian Leijer cross but headed over, missed opportunities that left Merrick disappointed.

“When we sorted that out in the second half you still need to have a goal … and if you don’t score goals you put yourself under a lot of pressure.”

“I think that was our worst performance this year and it’s a pity because it was a fantastic atmosphere out there,” he said of a game played before 25,897 fans at AAMI Park.

“Both groups of supporters were first-class, it was a great night for football, I’m sure they enjoyed an open game but I thought we played really poor football tonight.”

Skipper Kevin Muscat, arguably the most competitive player in the competition and a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, was bitterly disappointed that the Victory couldn’t send their fans home with at least a point even though he’s already looking forward to the next local derby.

“I didn’t feel we were certainly out of the contest at any stage but certainly we were nowhere near our best,” Muscat said.

“In these type of games you get nothing for free (and) we didn’t earn enough tonight so it’s as simple as that.”

“We’re just shattered and disappointed because the atmosphere we all witnessed was outstanding and our fans they go home disappointed tonight and I certainly feel for them.”

“I just thought it was a game we really wanted to win and it cuts deep to sit here tonight and for them to go home with the spoils.”

“But credit to them and we look forward to the next one.”

Merrick was also quick to defend both Hernandez, who looked well below full fitness having carried a calf injury this season, and Brazilian striker Ricardinho who has scored just one goal so far since joining the club.

“He said he felt good (and) I don’t think that’s an excuse that we’ll use,” Merrick said of Hernandez.

“And he started to create a few things more in the second half and get his turn on and play a few balls through but we seem to lack good quality runs from the strikers at the moment.”

“I think he’s coming on all the time Ricardinho, I think it was more to do with the service tonight, I just didn’t think we got our midfield going.”

“I was happy with the defence, we didn’t give away too much.”

“The midfield started to click more in the second half but I think the service has got to improve.”