Chris Greenacre is confident the Wellington Phoenix can exploit a Melbourne Victory side "in transition".
With manager Ricki Herbert unwell and missing from training yesterday, on and off-field duties fell to Greenacre - the former Phoenix striker-turned assistant coach.
And while he acknowledged a historically poor record against one of the A-League's traditionally strongest teams, with the Phoenix winning just two of 15 previous encounters, Greenacre hinted at a side still trying to adapt to a change in management.
After finishing eighth last season, Ange Postecoglu was brought in from champions Brisbane Roar for a restoration project. But the first four games of the season have been disappointing - bottom of the league with three points after four games.
Defence seems to be a particular problem, with Postecoglu's men leaking an average of 2.5 goals per game.
"Melbourne Victory have always got that reputation, a certain fear factor I suppose, which they've built from dominance within the league over previous seasons," Greenacre told the Sunday Star- Times.
"You can never write them off but they're obviously in a transition period with a change of managers.
"Ange is a top manager and he's proven himself in the A-League, it's only a matter of time before they'll click into gear.
"They had a good performance last up against the Newcastle Jets, they knocked the ball around well and created a lot of opportunities.
"We're going to have to go there and be on our guard, but there's no reason why we can't go out there and get a good result.
"The way the league is, it's about your own performance on the day."
Greenacre also said the Phoenix are looking forward to getting back on the pitch after a frustrating few days.
With Ben Sigmund controversially suspended for the Victory game, Greenacre said filling the defensive vacancy should be a relatively simple problem to solve.
"It should be a straightforward gap to fill for one game, there's a couple of players in contention and that will be down to Ricki who gets the nod," he said.
"The whole incident is unfortunate. Obviously it was a controversial game and I don't agree with the [Sigmund] decision that's been made, but that's out of our hands and is just something that you get dealt with from time to time.
"As a whole the season will probably balance itself out, I imagine at some point in the season there'll be a stroke of luck which will go in our favour. It's swings and roundabouts.
"But we're eager to move on and the focus is the next game."
As for his own career, Greenacre, who made 373 professional appearances in English football before 84 games for the Phoenix, says he's thoroughly enjoying his move into coaching.
"I'm loving it, absolutely loving it. It's been a great opportunity for me," he said.
"I'm finding that I'm learning new things every day - things I didn't appreciate as a player, things that I just took for granted.
"It's been a really eye-opening experience so far and I'm glad I made the decision."
MELBOURNE VICTORY v WELLINGTON PHOENIX
Melbourne, Etihad Stadium, tomorrow, 9.30pm (live SS1)
Head-to-head: Played: 15
Wins: Victory 7, Phoenix 2, Draws 6
Previous encounter: Victory 3 Phoenix 0 (16/03/2012)
Form (Past five matches): Victory: LWLLL Phoenix: LDDWL
- Sunday Star Times
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