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Nov 08, 2009   |  3:22PM AET

Merrick ‘bitterly disappointed’

Merrick ‘bitterly disappointed’

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has apologised to the club’s fans following Saturday night’s disappointing 4-0 loss at home to Central Coast Mariners.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has apologised to the club’s fans following Saturday night’s disappointing 4-0 loss at home to Central Coast Mariners.

After an indifferent start to the season that yielded just six points from the first six games, the Victory have since won six of their past eight games but the other two have resulted in heavy defeats at Etihad Stadium, 3-1 to Sydney FC a month ago before Saturday night’s defeat to the Mariners.

Speaking soon after the defeat, the second of the season at home to the Mariners who also prevailed 2-0 in the opening round, Merrick admitted he realised early in the game that his men weren’t up for the game.

“It was a very disappointing game,” Merrick said.

“We’ve lost two out of the last 10 and both of them have been here and we’ve conceded seven goals and not scored any and that’s extremely disappointing for our supporters.”

“I got a feeling in the first 10 or 15 minutes of the game that they were up for it and we weren’t.”

“They were first to the ball, they were scrapping for everything.”

“They scored probably against the run of play but then we weren’t playing that well.”

“Overall we probably had as many shots as they had and (Mariners goalkeeper Danny) Vukovic pulled off a couple of great saves but we didn’t score when we needed to, they took all their chances and were clinical.”

“And they looked good, they hadn’t won for about four weeks but they were determined to win today and they did.”

While embarrassed to have conceded seven goals in two games at home in the recent losses, without scoring any at the other end, Merrick isn’t completely down in the dumps with his team still well placed at the halfway mark of the season in second place.

“I think we’ve got to continually work on defence, there’s no doubt about that, we can’t concede goals so easily,” he added.

“But I think we’ve got to be clinical in finishing as well, it’s one thing creating the chances, it’s another scoring them.”

“(But) I think, putting it in perspective is very important: out of the last nine before tonight we’ve only lost one so that must mean our defence, midfield and strikers are playing well.”

“We’re second top of the league but we can’t play at home like that, be almost lethargic, and I know the boys are bitterly disappointed.”

“We had a couple of good players on tonight (but) at nil-all Vukovic pulled off a great save, at 2-0 up Vukovic pulled off two terrific saves and that’s the difference between winning and losing in football.”

Defender Rody Vargas was shattered by the performance saying he and his team-mates simply didn’t cope with the physical pressure put on them by the Mariners but with several veterans in the team including himself, Kevin Muscat and Grant Brebner he wasn’t blaming inexperience.

“We spoke after the game and (said) it was like a schoolyard, a Year 12 bullying a Year 10,” Vargas said.

“We just got bullied out there and we had no fight and we threw the towel in and that’s not what Melbourne Victory stand for. We know we expect much more out of ourselves.”

“It (inexperience) might have been (a factor) but we’re probably one of the oldest teams in the league.”

“We’ve got enough players to be able to push the younger boys along.”

“I just think we weren’t up for the fight tonight. Everyone knows Central Coast is up for a battle and we weren’t up for the battle tonight, we lost the battle and we lost the game.”