A-League: Jets to mount defence after Merrick given show cause notice over referee blow up

JETS chief executive Lawrie McKinna has reaffirmed the club’s support of Ernie Merrick after the coach was issued a show cause notice by Football Federation Australia on Tuesday.

ON THE MEND: Jets marquee Ronny Vargas and club physio Justin Dougherty. Picture: Sproule Sports Focus.

ON THE MEND: Jets marquee Ronny Vargas and club physio Justin Dougherty. Picture: Sproule Sports Focus.

The league’s most capped boss was cited under the sport's national code of conduct after he described the officiating “a disgrace” in the aftermath of the Jets’ 2-all draw with Western Sydney on Friday.

Merrick was highly critical of the performance of referee Peter Green and Video Assistant Referee Strebre Delovski after three contentious decisions – all involving goals – went against the Jets.

Adelaide coach Marco Kurz was also issued a show cause notice following an equally controversial 2-all draw with the Mariners.

The Jets have seven business days to respond to the notice.

“Joel Griffiths and I will sit down with Ernie and put together a submission,” McKinna said. “We will raise some points that believe are valid, outline our understanding of the rules and why Ernie was upset. Ernie spoke with passion and rightly so given the circumstances. I think it is important that the club stands together on this.”

Merrick stood by his post-game comments on Monday.

“I just think that too many things went wrong at the weekend, not only with the VAR, there were a number of issues I was disappointed with,” he said.

If the Jets’ response does not satisfy A-League boss Greg O’Rourke, Merrick, who has been sanctioned once in 11 years, could receive a reprimand, fine and or suspension.

Merrick became the latest in a long line of coaches to publicly air their dissatisfaction with the VAR and specifically its application. The Herald understands, none have previously received sanctions.

Meanwhile, Merrick will have “a chat” with Ronnie Vargas about lifting his training levels as the Venezuelan enters the final stage of his recovery from a broken ankle.

Vargas starred in the Jets’ opening three games before injured in late October.

The 31-year old had hoped to be available for the showdown with Sydney on March 3, but could be up to a month off returning.

"Ronnie is training hard, but not hard enough,” Merrick said. “He and I are going to have to have a little chat about that. I'd just like him to increase his level of training to get back sooner, because he would be quite special to use in the finals."

Merrick said Vargas would need at least two weeks of full training with the squad to be considered for selection.

He nominated the clash against Wellington in New Zealand on March 17 as a more realistic target.

“That would give him another four of five games opportunity running into the finals, which would be ideal, he just has to step up his training,” Merrick said.