The former Phoenix and Victory boss has been charged with the task of turning the underperforming Jets around following seven consecutive seasons without finals football.
And with a rejuvenated roster and the opportunity to mold his team over the extended pre-season, Merrick is confident things will turn around in the Hunter.
ERNIE IMPRESSED WITH JETS
“I actually thought I’d have more work to do. I’ve been very impressed with the quality that we’ve brought in,” Merrick told reporters on Tuesday.
“Roy O’Donovan was scoring goals for fun yesterday. He was getting great service from Andrew Nabbout and on the right-hand side from Dimitri (Petratos).
“The midfield seem to be much more organised defensively than I thought. Now I’ve got to get them to be a little bit more creative.
“Nikolai Topor-Stanley has just been tremendous an on-field coach. I think Nigel Boogaard will be the same when he comes back in once he gets over his injuries. “
JETS EYEING ATTACKNG MIDFIELDER
“We’re hoping to sign an attacking midfielder but we’ve got time to do that. We’re very lucky that we’ve only got two players to sign and nearly everyone’s back to full training,” Merrick said.
“We’re pretty sure who we want. We’ve got ourselves a short list of who we want and we’ve targeted those. If we don’t get the first one, we’ll get the second, if not we’ll get the third but the top three that we’ve selected are all good players and it won’t make a lot of difference because they’re out of contract type players.
“Whoever we sign, although they might be an attacking midfielder they must to be a goal-scorer.
“That’s the biggest thing that I’m pushing with my coaching is about scoring goals and at the same time everyone working to recover the ball.
“But it’s all about scoring goals, that’s what brings the crowds in. It will be someone of quality, who we have to pay a little bit more to and it will be outside of the cap.”
A-LEAGUE ATTRACTING QUALITY
“I don’t think the A-League is seen as a place that you come for your superannuation anymore. I think that there’s some good players coming out here, high quality,” Merrick said.
“We can attract players that 10 years ago we couldn’t attract when it was all iffy. Now the A-League’s very high standard, it’s a great place to live over here in Australia and New Zealand.
“So we can attract good players. We can pay as much money as some of the smaller countries in Europe because a lot of them are struggling financially.”
Source : Football Federation Australia