The latest edition of Halftime, Fulham’s magazine for their younger supporters, carries an interesting interview with Croatian forward Mladen Petric, who the fans have seen far too little of lately.
The former Hamburg forward started the season in terrific touch, scoring twice against Norwich after a terrific pre-season following his free transfer in the summer. Since being troubled by an untimely muscle injury, Petric has found starts harder to come by – especially after the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov in August – but his predatory instincts are a real benefit to the side, as shown by the manner in which he forced home Fulham’s third goal against West Ham in injury time last week.
Petric admits he hardly needed convincing to join Fulham having played against them in the legendary Europa League semi-final, scoring Hamburg’s goal with a powerful free-kick in the second leg, and after playing under Martin Jol at the German side. He also got a favourable first impression of Craven Cottage, which he described as ‘not like most grounds – it’s nice and traditional’.
The 32 year-old says he’s really enjoying life in south west London:
Yes, of course! I had a fantastic pre-season and then I made a good start to the new campaign in the Barclays Premier League. I was a bit unlucky with a small muscle injury but now I am fit again. I hope to get a bit more time on the pitch in the second half of the season and I will do my best in training to show the gaffer that I deserve it.
Petric is also relishing the opportunity to test himself in the Premier League, which he admitted was always a lifelong aspiration. He’s already troubled some of the top defences – having played a key part in Fulham’s second goal at Old Trafford back in August and scored against Manchester City at Craven Cottage.
I don’t know if it’s [the Premier League] the hardest, but it’s the best league in the world. There are so many good players here and so many superstars at each club. If you compare it to Germany, only Bayern Munich really have the big names.
Petric, who first shot to prominence with Basel and Grasshoppers in Switzerland, has made his unique bow and arrow celebration famous – and the Fulham fans will be hoping to see a lot more of it before the season’s out.
I am thinking of stopping it! It started as a celebration after the birth of my daughter. But the fans seem to like it and want me to do it if I score so maybe I will keep it!
The striker is targeting a higher finish than last season and insists he’s not given up on the possibility of European football returning to the Cottage. Petric might have had to fight for a first team place after his injury lay-off but his perseverance and reading of the game – not to mention his tireless running up front – make him a handy weapon for Jol to have at his disposal during the second half of the season.