Petrovic pays the price for West Ham's terrible start

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The Independent Football

West Ham United have parted company with assistant manager Zeljko Petrovic as they attempt to turn round their faltering season.

Petrovic had only been at Upton Park for four months, having joined in late July as part of new manager Avram Grant's backroom staff. Yesterday a brief statement on the West Ham website read: "The club would like to wish Zeljko for his efforts during his four months and wish him well for the future."

The former Yugoslavia midfielder joined West Ham having managed Boavista in Portugal and Dutch club RKC Waalwijk, as well as a spell assisting Martin Jol at Hamburg but he paid the price for the Hammers bad start to the season. They are currently bottom with just nine points from their first 14 games and have only won one PremierLeague game so far, the fewest in the division.

Recent home draws with West Bromwich Albion and Blackpool have added to the discontent among supporters, and Saturday's game with fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic at Upton Park has been designated the "save our season game" by the West Ham board. Five thousand adult tickets have been reduced to £20, and a club statement has urged that "a full house of loyal vociferous supporters is needed to help the team as they go all-out for victory."

Petrovic's departure is likely to lead to a restructuring of the West Ham coaching staff, with reports of the return of former players Paolo di Canio and Steve Lomas to help Grant. Di Canio enjoyed four and a half seasons at theclub and played 141 games, scoring 52 goals.

Meanwhile, Newcastle's Mike Williamson has denied a Football Association charge of violent conduct against the Bolton Wanderers striker Johan Elmander. A regulatory commission will hear the case today with the 27-year-old facing a three-match ban if found guilty.

Williamson was charged on Monday after referee Howard Webb, who did not see the incident during the Magpies' 5-1 Premier League defeat at Bolton, viewed video footage and decided he would have issued a red card had he done so.

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