A-League Rev-Up: Ernie Merrick and Kevin Muscat couldn't be more different

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The two grand final coaches are cut from different cloths...

The A-League championship decider is upon us as Newcastle Jets take on Melbourne Victory in front of a full house at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.

Can the Jets complete a fairytale story of going from wooden spoon winners to competition champions?

Will heavyweights Victory win a fourth A-League title in their sixth grand final appearance?

Get revved up.


Ernie Merrick and Kevin Muscat - the tale of two foes


It's the Master versus the Apprentice in the A-League grand final.

Ernie Merrick coached Melbourne Victory to two championships with Kevin Muscat as his captain. But since Merrick's axing at the club in 2011, there is no love lost between the two leaders.

It's understood Merrick and Muscat won't pose together with the A-League championship trophy at the official pre-match grand final press conference - instead club captains Nigel Boogaard and Carl Valeri will come together to the photo shoot.

Read into that what you will.

Ernie Merrick Kevin Muscat

The two coaches couldn't be more different in their demeanour, personalities and coaching styles.

Merrick showed up to his press conference with a beer after their semi-final victory over Melbourne City, while Muscat sipped on a water in the post-match chat following the win against Sydney FC.

When Riley McGree scored that famous scorpion kick, Merrick sat emotionless on the sidelines. As Terry Antonis earned Victory an unlikely extra-time result, Muscat celebrated wildly.

This season, the Jets have played a direct style of football, not too dissimilar to the tactics used at Victory by Merrick during his six seasons at the club. Victory favour a short passing game, that was initially implemented by Ange Postecoglou, and has been developed further by Muscat.

Which coach will be victorious on Saturday? You might see Muscat with a beer or Merrick celebrating enthusiastically if their teams are triumphant.


Don't even try to pick a winner!


Football fans should be in for a treat during Saturday's decider, with the attacking football produced by both teams to allow an electrifying end-to-end contest.

You probably won't get a more evenly-matched grand final. While Victory have more experience in finals and arguably shade the Jets in individual talent, Newcastle proved the better team over a 27-game regular season, finishing nine points ahead. They will also have a parochial crowd of 30,000 people cheering them home.

Muscat will be hoping Victory's poor record in Newcastle isn't a factor. The blue-and-white have only won five of their 22 A-League games at McDonald Jones Stadium and only have one victory at the stadium since 2009.

Kevin Muscat

Both teams would be deserving winners for different reasons.

The Jets have undergone a remarkable transformation as a club over the past 12 months and a championship would cap off a magnificent story.

If Victory manage to get up on the day, they would have peaked at the right time of the year to get the job done when it matters.

Bring on Saturday.

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