Coyle targets American market for talent
Flushed with the success of Stuart Holden (pictured) – the midfield diamond he signed from Houston Dynamo and who has been so desperately missed during his long injury lay-off – Owen Coyle is so convinced there are rich pickings to be had across the Atlantic that he has been driving his family to distraction watching an endless stream of film footage of potential recruits.
And it appears to be paying dividends with US international centre-back Tim Ream just a work permit away from completing his £2.5million transfer from New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union’s French striker Sebastien Le Toux currently at the Reebok on a week’s trial.
There is an obvious attraction in the bargains to be had when shopping in the MLS, where fees can be a fraction of those demanded in Europe, but it is not just finance that prompts Coyle to ensure he has all bases covered Stateside.
He is convinced there are players in America who not only have the ability but also the right attitude to cope with the mental and physical demands of playing top-flight football.
And Ream is a prime example.
“I believe Tim Ream is a player who can get better,” the Wanderers boss said of the defender he is on the verge of making his first signing of the current transfer window.
“He’s 24 years of age, but 24 in America is probably, I would suggest, about 21 (in football development terms) because of the college education which is so important, and I totally understand that. But within that they miss out on starting their careers earlier than they probably could have.
“That’s why the American players do have an impact on the Premier League when they come here because, regardless of their age, they maybe have a freshness for not having been thrown in from 17 or 18 years of age and everything that goes with that. I don’t know the answer, but they certainly come in with an energy and a desire to show their worth.
“I believe Tim Ream has all those qualities, added to his natural attributes and God-given talent and his tremendous physical condition.”
The percentage of American players in the Premier League is still small, but Coyle makes it clear he is committed to tapping into the MLS market.
“They’ve been able to entice some top, top players into their league, and within that they have some top players themselves,” he added. “You see Landon Donovan is over just now with Everton, as he has been before, and playing at a very high level.
“But for years the American players have done well in the Premier League.
“They’ve made an impact and that’s because, firstly, they are very talented, and, secondly, they have a mentality that deals with the demands of the league.”
So Coyle will continue to keep in touch with his American contacts – including US national coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who gave Ream a glowing reference – and will continue to pore over the supply of match action he receives from the MLS as well as all the other domestic leagues he has covered – even if it doesn’t go down well at home.
“I can’t say my family’s best pleased when I’m sitting watching all the stuff,” he admitted. “But that’s the nature of the job.”