Ernie Merrick's six-year tenure at the Melbourne Victory has ended after the club announced they had parted ways with the dual premiership coach.
Rumours that Merrick was set to be axed spread like wildfire on Friday, but his departure was not confirmed until the club's chairman Anthony Di Pietro and managing director Richard Wilson fronted the media on Saturday afternoon at AAMI Park.
Merrick did not appear at the press conference but it is believed that he was told his services were no longer needed on Saturday morning.
"The board of Melbourne Victory can announce head coach Ernie Merrick and the club have agreed to part ways," Di Pietro said.
"This decision has been reached after an extensive board review of all parts of the business. We determined the best way forward was to part ways and Melbourne Victory are to undertake a new coaching direction."
"Ernie's been obviously a very successful coach and we are appreciative of this, however, we've mutually agreed it is time to part ways.''
Di Pietro denied Merrick had been axed and refused to go into detail about the agreement reached between the two parties, before explaining that the change in manager was important in the new direction of the football club.
"There's been no sacking here. The details of the discussion remain confidential. Ernie and ourselves left on amicable terms," he said.
"We are undergoing some very important changes at our football club. We have a new leadership and a clear vision moving forward."
"This is one, to grow our brand domestically and internationally. Two, to drive our revenues and ensure the club's sustainability, and three, ensure we are always highly competitive on the field."
Di Pietro said the club was disappointed with the recent A-League season, where the Victory were knocked out of the finals in the first round by Gold Coast and their AFC Champions League campaign which started disastrously with their first match ending in a 5-1 thumping by Gamba Osaka in Japan.
"Our club sets extremely high standards and we're disappointed by the results in this A-League season along with the start to our AFC Champions League campaign," he said.
"Our intent is to continue to be the benchmark club in the A-League and be successful in Asia and believe this decision will assist us in taking us to that level."
Merrick, who led the Victory to titles in 2006-07 and 2008-09, was the longest serving A-League manager and had one year left on his contract.
The club's youth team coach Mehmet Durakovic will take care of first-team duties as caretaker manager and will deputise during Tuesday's home AFC Champions League encounter against Jeju United at AAMI Park.
As far as a permanent replacement goes, Di Pietro said the search had not begun and was reserved when quizzed if out-of-contract Brisbane Roar boss Ange Postecoglou could make the move back to Melbourne to be with his family and take charge of the Victory.
"As far as Ange is concerned, we wish him well tomorrow, (for the Grand Final) but we haven't commenced the search yet,'' Di Pietro said.
He also explained that the club's quest for a new boss would be a 'national and international search and said that assistant coaches Kevin Muscat, Aaron Healey and football operations manager Gary Cole would keep their jobs.
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