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Victory chair explains Merrick axe

Ernie Merrick was sacked because the most successful coach in A-League history had stopped being successful.

That's how Melbourne Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro explained his board's decision to dismiss Merrick on Saturday with a year remaining on his current contract.

Merrick's fate was sealed once Di Pietro and the club's new board assumed control because of their displeasure with the Victory's A-League and Asian Champions League performances.

A wide-ranging review into the club conducted by new managing director Richard Wilson also found a need for change at the top.

Di Pietro defended both the timing and the decision to terminate Merrick's contract just one match into the six-match Asian Champions League campaign.

"Our club sets extremely high standards and we are disappointed with the results of the recent A-League season and also our start to the Champions League campaign," said Di Pietro, who has just succeeded Geoff Lord as club chairman.

"We have an expectation to finish in the top four of the competition, we go out to win the championship every year, we want to qualify for Asia every year."

The Victory finished fifth in this season's A-League.

But the catalyst for change was a 5-1 belting in their ACL opener by Japan's Gamba Osaka earlier this month.

Di Pietro also denied the club had given up on this season's ACL after appointing youth team coach and former Socceroo Mehmet Durakovic for the rest of the campaign.

He takes the helm for Tuesday night's clash with Korea's Jeju United at Etihad Stadium.

Victory's new coach will not start until at least after the ACL group stages finish in May, allowing what Di Pietro dubbed a national and international search for the right person.

The chairman also said he could not foresee any other immediate staffing changes until the new coach takes charge.

Assistant coaches Aaron Healey and Kevin Muscat and football operations boss Gary Cole currently remain at the club.


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