American dinner friends are the best of enemies in cup clash
IT was fowl play when they last sat down at the dinner table – but Tim Ream hopes he and Stuart Holden will be the ones giving thanks when they leave the pitch with fellow American Tim Howard at the Reebok this afternoon.
Despite finding himself thousands of miles from home, Ream revealed he is still finding some home comforts and sat down to a turkey dinner prepared at the Howard household with some of his fellow Statesiders to celebrate Thanksgiving back in November.
But the defender admits things are unlikely to be as cordial this afternoon as Wanderers search for the recipe to spring another FA Cup shock on Premier League opposition.
“You don’t really have the holiday over here, but it’s nice to hear a familiar accent every once in a while,” said Missouri-born Ream. “Myself, Stu, Maurice Edu (Stoke City) all went up to Timmy’s house and he prepared a whole meal.
“We all brought a side dish, though. And I don’t think he did the turkey, his cook did. He paid someone!
“It’ll be good to see him again. Obviously better if we get the result.”
It is a year ago to the day that Ream completed his £2.3million move from New York Red Bulls to jump into the gap vacated by Chelsea-bound Gary Cahill.
And the last 12 months has not always gone according to plan for the 25-year-old, with relegation for the Whites followed quickly by the dismissal of the man who signed him, Owen Coyle.
Life outside the top flight has been anything but enjoyable too, with Ream among several Bolton players to have struggled in their new environment.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m playing American football out there,” he joked. “I would not say it is a step down, it’s definitely quicker.
“People don’t try to play it as often. You still have your teams that like to knock the ball around, but for most it is putting it down the channels and up to the striker and having a battle with him which is something that everybody has had to get used to, not just the guys at the back.
“The guys throughout the team have had to adjust and it’s not just playing pretty and wanting two touches is not going to cut it every time you get the ball. It’s a gritty league, you just have to grind the games out.”
Wanderers won’t need reminding of the last time they crossed paths with Howard, who memorably scored from 90 yards with a wind-assisted clearance at Goodison Park last season, shortly before Ream’s arrival.
“I haven’t mentioned it to Shaggy (Adam Bogdan) although I might now,” Ream joked. “We’ll just blame that on the weather. It happens.”
But after the rigours of the Championship season, a top-flight opponent may just bring the best out of Dougie Freedman’s men as it did against Sunderland in the last round.
“It has been tough,” Ream admitted. “I feel like I’m back in New York in my final year as we are drawing a lot of games, battling back from a goal down and only really getting a point is tough.
“With the new staff, the things that they have tried to implement has taken time for everyone to get used to and the habits they want you to have. It has been an up and down season so far.
“I think we all see the positives that have started to creep in and the way we can control games and the way we can defend as a team. We have shown we can put in consistent displays and hopefully we can continue that.
“We are more organised. We have a set way of playing and a set position for guys to play in. It has definitely helped out some guys by giving an idea of where they should be instead of just willy-nilly. From an organisation point, it is a pretty big difference.”
Though promotion hopes are fading at the Reebok, Ream is optimistic a good result against Everton could still be a spur for a play-off push.
“I don’t know about automatic promotion but if we continue to play the way we have the last two games – put a goal in here and there – we could definitely go on a run and make our way up,” he said. “I have not looked at the standings, so don’t know how many points we are off the play-offs but it is definitely doable.”