Fulham striker Mladen Petric today brought high-flying Fulham back to earth by insisting he would rather his new club were consistent plodders rather than architects of the occasional spectacular like the 5-0 thumping of Norwich City.
Petric marked his Premier League debut with two goals in a result that defied the absence of want-away American Clint Dempsey and left Fulham top of the table going into a testing game at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The 31-year-old Croatian said the romp against Norwich “gives us a lot of confidence”. But he added: “I would be happier if we won the next five games one-zero rather than win five-zero and then not win the next week.
“Manchester United will be a big challenge for us. Not every game will be like the one against Norwich. But it was an important win and I hope we can keep going like that.”
Manager Martin Jol admitted he had taken a gamble on signing the striker on a free transfer from Hamburg, the club he steered to fifth place in the Bundesliga and the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2009 when Petric was a member of the playing roster.
Last season Petric scored just seven times in 26 appearances for Hamburg. It was not a great record, but Jol was undeterred. He explained: “When I look at strikers you see statistics, and Petric is in a group of players who will score goals. Probably not 20 in 20 games, but he will score one in two, two and a half, and that is a good record.
“He didn’t do that last year. But I feel, especially if you are not Barcelona or Real Madrid or Manchester United or Chelsea, you should get quality in when they are not playing well. That is what I did with Petric.”
In the absence of Dempsey, who Jol claimed does have a future at Fulham even though the player seems determined to move away, Petric slipped neatly into the role of scorer and provider with one particularly neat flick setting up impressive young Swede Alex Kacaniklic for the fourth goal in front of a rapturous crowd at Craven Cottage.
Petric said: “I’m happy I was able to provide the assist but most important were the three points and that we played a good game together as a team. It wasn’t just one or two of us who played well.
“We didn’t concede a goal, we defended very well, and that was important in a big first game. It was a fantastic day for us with an amazing crowd. But of course, it cannot be like that every week.”
Jol agreed, saying: “One swallow doesn’t make a summer. We need to strengthen the team. Three players have left us from central midfield – Marcel Gecov, Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu – so I feel we have to do something there.
“And up front. If opponents start pressuring us we haven’t got a big number nine, like Bobby Zamora, to hold the ball up. We have to find someone for that.”