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Merrick's influence heavy over A-League

AAP logoAAP 5/12/2016 Ben McKay

Even if Ernie Merrick doesn't coach another game, his record as the most successful mentor in the A-League's history will take some beating.

Only Graham Arnold is within cooee of Merrick's 100 A-League wins, a benchmark that cements the former Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix coach's place in A-League history.

Merrick resigned as Phoenix coach on Sunday night after a 2-0 loss to previously winless Adelaide United.

It is likely to spell the end of Merrick's senior coaching career.

At 63, Merrick would be the oldest man in the league's history to begin a fresh coaching stint.

The Edinburgh-born Scottish-Australian coach can look back on a fantastic legacy.

He is the only man to be named coach of the year twice and the only man to win the premiership-championship double twice.

In 2007, Archie Thompson led a 6-0 grand final rout of Adelaide United to secure the club's first title.

Two years later, Tom Pondeljak's goal over the Reds in another grand final confirmed Victory as the league's biggest club.

So much of that was because of Merrick.

He led Victory's original recruitment efforts, bringing Archie Thompson and Kevin Muscat among others to the club.

Long-time rival Graham Arnold said he was saddened by the resignation of "a fantastic guy".

"He's the most successful and experienced coach in the A-League in terms of trophies and games," he said on Monday.

"It's (Phoenix coach) got to be he hardest job in the A-League.

"The travel is very difficult but then having to deal with the international FIFA windows and losing players.

"In the first eight or nine games he's lost players for two games ... they're fatigued, then you lose and it just rattles players' confidence and it's hard to bring everything back together, especially in the public eye."

Merrick was the last foundation coach to be sacked when the increasingly ambitious Victory board fired him in 2011 after a 5-1 Asian Champions League loss to Gamba Osaka.

At Wellington, Merrick was a victim of raised expectations - hopes he'd raised himself.

Merrick told AAP the club's sights were set on a top-four finish after a pre-season with nine wins from 10 games and the additions of Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler and Marco Rossi.

"I'm very upbeat about this team," he said in early October.

"We're buzzing in Wellington because we've got such a strong squad. It would have to be the strongest squad since I've been at the club."

Despite resigning his post on Sunday, Merrick believed - both at the start of the season and now - that the Nix could be champions this season.

In the shadow of the 2-0 loss to the Adelaide, Merrick said the team was "certainly good enough" to make the finals still with a strong run.

"If we did we could get in the finals and do something," he said.

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