ERNIE Merrick does not agree with Ben Wilson’s endorsement of the match officials’ performance in the Jets’ drama-charged 2-1 loss to Melbourne City nor does the Scotsman assent to the notion that he has a “good relationship” with the A-League referees boss, but the championship-winning coach is certain of one thing – it is time to move on.
The Jets take on champions Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Saturday and are in danger of losing touch with the top six.
They will be without marquee midfielder Ronny Vargas, who was controversially sent off after receiving a yellow card for dissent, his second caution, mid-way through the first half against City with the Jets up 1-0.
The send-off was among a host of contentious decisions that went against the Jets at AAMI Park last Sunday.
Wilson on Monday praised the performance of referee Kurt Ams and the VAR in a “high-pressure game”.
The Jets maintain that Vargas was wrongly pinned for an intentional handball inside the box, which was the flash point for his second card, and also believe they should have been awarded at least two penalties.
“The referee had a lot of decisions to make and I thought he did well,” Wilson told The Herald on Monday. “The VAR looked at all of those and I was happy with both the referee’s original decision and the VAR’s judgment in all those cases.”
Wilson also indicated that he shared a “good relationship” with Merrick, which the coach rejected.
“I disagree with what was said about some of the decisions on the park,” Merrick said. “Regarding how I get on with the referees: I would say, I get on really well with the majority of referees. I would say, I don’t get on with Ben Wilson at all.”
Pressed on the issue he had with Wilson, Merrick said: “I don’t want to make further comment. I’m just saying, I don’t get on with Ben Wilson, but I get on with the majority of referees. Someone said I got on well with Ben Wilson, I’m just correcting it.”
The Jets have been on the wrong end of a number of debatable decisions in recent times, most notably the VAR malfunction in last season’s grand final, but Merrick said the playing group had learned to move on.
“We were very disappointed with some of the decisions but we haven’t discussed it,” Merrick said. “We didn’t get the results and we just have to move on.”
Merrick said the best way to move forward was to “focus on the way we are playing”.
“It is very important that we keep improving our style of play,” he said. “We are looking forward to playing Victory in Melbourne and then Sydney. Two away games against two good teams. Provided we keep playing the way we are playing, the results will come.”
The Jets sit in seventh place on 12 points, four points adrift of Wellington and Adelaide, but have played an extra game.
“I am not worried about that,” Merrick said. “This is a team that will play in the finals. I am convinced of that. We can’t keep playing like this and not get results.”
Dimi Petratos will switch from the right to the No.10 role against Victory in the absence of Vargas.