Supporting WHU in Oz Over Three Decades

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My decision to emigrate from England to Australia in 1981 was the hardest in my life. To leave friends and family was hard to do but I knew that my opportunities in life would be greater if I made the move. The other heartache for me was discarding the fortnightly visit to my beloved Hammers. I had been going to Upton Park for 13 years but I did not realise just how much I would miss the place three decades later. In the final two years of my life in England the Hammers had won the FA Cup final against Arsenal, made the League Cup final against Liverpool and had won promotion back to the top flight by winning the old second division. It was so hard to leave all this behind.

The first decade living in Australia was like living on a different planet football wise. Pay TV and the internet were a long way from their inception here and in fact the only chance to see English football was a half hour goal highlights show at 11.30pm on a Monday night. Australia was so far behind in the pre-communication World that even number one single tracks in the UK would only get into the charts here some 9 months later. In the first few years the only chance I had of following West Ham was the newspaper cuttings from the games that my mum would send me by post. These used to arrive about 3 weeks after the games but it was the best we could manage. Some years later the local TV station extended the football show to an hour, showing the highlights of one game and the goals from the rest of the division. However, the station was so biased to showing just one team that we renamed the show, “The Liverpool show”. Worse was to come though as the Hammers got relegated in the late eighties and again in the early nineties meaning that all TV coverage of West Ham disappeared. Back again to the wait for mum’s newspaper clippings.

From the mid eighties through to the mid nineties I had bought myself a short wave radio. At last I could tune into the BBC World Service as they gave a commentary of the second half of one game on a Saturday afternoon and also updated latest scores. That meant getting out of bed at 2am on a Sunday morning and trying to tune the radio station in, as the reception was at best fuzzy and more often very crackly! Constant retuning meant that you often got West Ham 1 Arsenal zszszszszsz. My wife was really doubting my sanity by now as I would climb back into bed at 4am, often only learning what the final score was for my nocturnal efforts.

Finally in the late nineties we had the introduction of Pay TV and EPL games were shown on a regular basis, although watching all West Ham games was still not guaranteed. Only selected games were chosen for viewing but that was to change in recent years. Providing you pay for the Pay TV subscription we can watch any game we desire in the EPL, just by pressing a select red button on the control. The 21st century also provides the internet where we can catch up with all the latest news and also blog on sites like these. The fear of relegation hangs high still each season as the drop would also mean a blackout of West Ham coverage over here again. The 32 years here have not dented my love for our club and I have managed to get back quite a few times over the past 20 years to get my Upton Park “fix”. Like the prolonged wait for Pay TV and internet, I am now waiting for the “beam me up Scotty” technology, that will mean getting to the Olympic Stadium and back before the missus gets out of bed on a Sunday morning.


New Signing: Mladen Petric Statistics

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Mladen Petric Stats

DOB: 01/01/1981
Age: 32
Position: Striker

Previous Club: Fulham
Previous Division: Premier League

Transfer Date: 10/09/2013
Reported Fee: Free Transfer

All it took was a series of underwhelming displays from our one fit senior striker, a transfer request from our makeshift backup option, a succession of failed loan bids for top quality Premier League talent, a failed medical by a supposedly sure fire fall back option, and another mid to long term injury to our record signing for West Ham to finally conclude a frustrating summer transfer window by signing former Fulham striker Mladen Petric on a one year contract.

Yes, the summer window has been a bit of a saga. Many have been left frustrated by the way the club have handled the very public pursuit of a centre forward, but let’s put that behind us. We finally have one! And a pretty good one at that.

Croatia international Petric comes with an impressive career haul of 166 goals in 441 club games, and another 13 in 45 for his country. During his five years in the German Bundesliga, Petric managed 79 goals in 172 appearances, including a number of goalscoring performances in European competition.

He may be entering the twilight of his career, but this could prove to be a very shrewd signing by Sam Allardyce and our pair of Davids.

Can Petric still cut it at the highest level? His goalscoring record has never been poor, but it has shrunk in the past few seasons, as has his assist contribution.

Head to West Ham United Stats for my full analysis of Mladen Petric – including a look at the goals he scored last season, and way to get the best out of him


Talking Point

Petric Signs but Sam Allardyce Still needs to Adapt his Style of Play!

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So, West Ham have, indeed, signed Mladen Petric on a Bosman deal. He was released by Fulham this summer after making 24 appearances for the cottagers last season (starting in 10 matches) and scoring 5 goals. He is a decent player, perhaps not with the pace he once had, but his skill and technique hopefully remain undiminished. Indeed, from what I can determine, Petric is nippy and skilful striker, with the capacity to score spectacular goals. At 32 years of age, his very best years are probably behind him, but hopefully he will come in and do a reasonable job for us. We may be unhappy with the business transacted in the summer window and, in all honesty, we would probably have preferred to have signed a number of other strikers. But he is a Hammers player now and we should give him every chance and 100% support.

You know, fate some times throws the dice up in the air and we expect ‘snake eyes’ and it turns out to be a double six. If Petric has a last hurrah at West Ham that would be excellent, although admittedly it is said more in hope than expectation. But if he can help steer us through to January, keeping clear of relegation danger and within realistic striking distance of 10th place, then the deal will have been justified. I am not expecting 15-20 goals from him this season, but if he can pitch in with 8-10 then that will be a positive contribution. While anything more would be a nice bonus.

This signing does beg another question though. Petric is not a large target man, able to lead the line in Carroll’s absence and get on the end of crosses in to the box. He seems to me to be a more mobile striker, who uses his pace and technique to get in to goal scoring positions. There is nothing to suggest that Petric possesses a pronounced aerial ability or can capitalise effectively on high balls. So, how does this signing help Allardyce to replace the injured Carroll or adopt his preferred style of play? The answer is that it does not assist him at all in that respect. Petric is another striker, akin to Vaz Te and Maiga, who is prefer the ball played on the floor and to feet. So, unless the plan is to bring in Carlton Cole or another more traditional type of centre forward, Sam Allardyce will still have to adapt the team’s playing style to get the best out of the three strikers currently at his disposal. That means adopting an approach, such as that seen in the recent friendly win over Espanyol, with more emphasis upon passing and movement.

It will be fascinating to see how Sam Allardyce actually sets up his team at Southampton. Is he likely to put out a conservative 4-5-1 and play it tight, looking to convert from corners and set pieces? Or might he draw on the experiment conducted against Espanyol and adopt a more expansion approach? Most supporters would bet on the former rather than the latter scenario. Southampton are a much improved team and have some good individual players. However, this is a fixture that we should be looking to take at least a point from and perhaps all three. We need a good result to stem the tide of pessimism that has naturally arisen in the aftermath of the club’s botched transfer window, the sudden spate of first team injuries (to Cole, Downing and Diarra) and then latterly the shock of Carroll’s new ankle injury.

I think it is true to say that there are more questions then answers at the moment. For instance, it will be interesting to see if Rat comes in to the side at left-back. Arguably, we will need to draw upon his Champions League and international experience at this difficult juncture. Will they stick with Collins-Reid or might Tomkins come in to the frame, based upon his impressive performance against Espanyol? Will Morrison start in midfield or on the bench? Will Petric start in attack and what formation will he fit in to? Will some of the U-21 prospects like Elliott Lee challenge for a place on the bench?

Personally, I hope that the solidarity of our defence and strength in midfield will see us achieve a good result. It is difficult to make a prediction with so many questions outstanding. But I am going for a 1-1 draw and a useful away point. COYI!

SJ. Chandos.

Player News

Mladen Petric - He's a 1 in 3 Striker Who Could Save Our Season

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OK, this has to be quick as I am on air in an hour. Petric has signed and has been unveiled in his Hammers kit. He might not have been prolific at Fulham (5 in 23) but someone pointed out on the last thread that he only got 10 starts. His scoring record elsewhere has been pretty decent. He scored 38 in 99 for Hamburg, 13 in 29 for Borussia Dortmund and 38 in 72 for Basel. Internationally, he’s scored 13 in 45 for Croatia, so he’s basically a slightly better than 1 in 3 striker. This is what he told the club website…

I’m very happy, excited and looking forward to training with the team and to the first game," Petric said. "I know [the Premier League] and I’m happy to be back in the Premier League, because it’s a fantastic league and I’m really looking forward to being part of this team and this Club. There are a lot of good players here and I’m happy to be part of such a good team and I hope we can all celebrate my first goal for West Ham as soon as possible. I didn’t speak to Sam [Allardyce] until today but I’ve heard a lot about him and I spoke to Guy Demel, who I know from my time at Hamburg and I’m sure I’ll have a good time here. I remember playing at West Ham last year and it was a very tough game for us at Fulham. I think we lost 3-0! It’s not easy to come here [as the away side] and take points away.

I just found this video on Youtube. He seems to be quite emotional about leaving the club in this video, and judging from the goals shown he knows how to find the net!

He’s apparently fit and ready to play. So, my question to you is this. Should he play at Southampton?

UPDATE: He’s just tweeted…

Wie ihr bestimmt schon mitgekriegt habt habe ich heute bei West Ham unterschrieben! Ich freue mich riesig auf…

Translated, this means “As you have almost definitely heard, I have today signed for West Ham. I’m really looking forward to it.” Aren’t you glad I have a degree in German? You can follow him on Twitter @Mladen_Petric.

Player Analysis

A West Ham Crocks 11

How about this for a team for West Ham crocks! OK, I couldn’t think of a goalkeeping candidate, but there you go.

1. David Bentley
2. Rob Jones
3. Julian Dicks
4. Simon Webster
5. Matty Holmes
6. Alan Devonshire
7. Stewart Robson
8. Kieron Dyer
9. Andy Carroll
10. Dean Ashton
11. Benni McCarthy

Your nominations for the subs bench please.

UPDATE: Rumour is that we have signed Mladen Petric. He played for Fulham scoring 5 goals in 23 games, although his record for other clubs is slightly more prolific than that!

UPDATE 2: Confirmed on the club website

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