Emanuel Pogatetz gained the nickname “Mad Dog” for his aggressive style of defending. After starting his career at Sturm Graz but failing to make a first team appearance, then moving to Karnten where he impressed enough to earn a move to German side Bayer Leverkusen. He was sent out on loan three times during his stint with the German side to FC Aarau, Grazer AK and finally to Spartak Moscow where his nickname was cemented when in his last game on loan for Spartak Moscow, he flew into a tackle with Russian player Yaroslav Kharitonskiy leaving him with a double leg fracture. He received a 24 week ban from the Russian Football Union which was later reduced to eight weeks.
Following his loan spell at Spartak Moscow Pogatetz left Bayer Leverkusen for Middlesbrough in a deal worth £1.8million in August 2005, however Pogatetz still had to miss the first three games for Middlesbrough from his ban in Russia. In March 2006 during the first leg of Middlesbrough’s 2-0 UEFA Cup defeat to Basel he went for a header against Basel’s then striker Mladen Petric. He came off worse from the collision suffering horrific facial injuries where he broke his nose, jaw and cheekbone. He was later advised to miss three months of football training/games for fear he could end up losing his eyesight! However Pogatetz has had further breaks to his cheekbone and it is becoming a permanent weak spot for the player. Pogatetz was handed the captain’s armband in the 07-08 season for Middlesbrough after an excellent spell at Middlesbrough. In 2010 he moved to Hannover 96 where he spent a successful two seasons before moving to VFL Wolfsburg.
At the age of 30 I think this is a crucial time in Pogatetz’s career. The fact is that he has moved around a number of clubs and whilst he has been successful at most, his most successful time came in England with Middlesbrough. With Pogatetz able to play both left side of defence and central defence this helps cover the full defensive line and add depth to the all important left side where West Ham have been struggling of late. The only issue I feel could be a problem will be Pogatetz’s poor disciplinarily record. This is an important time for West Ham when we need to start stringing together a good run of results so we start moving in the right direction which is away from the relegation zone and not losing players because they are hot heads. So I hope that in his time in Germany Pogatetz has came back to England as a cool, calm and collected player.
On the whole I feel this is an excellent move for West Ham, we have ourselves a solid player who adds cover but is a solution to the left side of defence problem.
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