HAD West Brom stumped up cash to tempt Tim Ream into swapping the Big Apple for the Black Country, he would probably be thinking of a second sunshine vacation instead of a relegation fight.
Back in December, the US international spent a week on trial under Roy Hodgson before heading north to sample life at Euxton.
The Baggies wanted Ream on loan but Owen Coyle’s desire to land his man from New York Red Bulls – a move that eventually cost £2.5million – convinced him to abandon plans for a honeymoon in Tahiti with his new wife Kristen and move lock stock and barrel across the Atlantic to Horwich.
Not that the defender regrets his decision for a second.
Mid-table obscurity may seem a preferential option right now, given Wanderers’ predicament, but Ream believes he will learn more about himself after a spell at the business end of the Premier League.
“I don’t regret it for one second,” he told The Bolton News. “For my wife and I, Bolton was the best option.
“You get a taste for the relegation battle right from the get-go, and so I will never wonder how I will react if I get into that position again in my career.
“I’m in there battling and fighting with the rest of the guys, so again, I can’t say I regret a second of the time I've been here so far.”
Had West Brom been more pro-active in their approach, then Ream admits the lure of playing under newly-appointed England boss Roy Hodgson would have been difficult to resist. “I sat down and talked with Roy just about every single day I was there,” he said.
“He made me feel really comfortable.
“I think he was happy with my ability, and knowing his history and pedigree as a coach, if the club had wanted me to come permanently then it would have been a very tough decision.
“It was a good experience for me, a first taste, and it gave me a decent idea of what to expect when I came to Bolton the following week. The rest is history.”
The 4-1 midweek defeat against Tottenham came as a shock to the system for Ream, who had to that point been forging an impressive defensive partnership with David Wheater. But the 24-year-old is sure Wanderers can quickly shrug off the disappointment.
“They put a good whooping on us and that might have knocked us down a couple of notches,” he said.
“We’ve known the gravity of the situation for the last few weeks, so we have really tried to keep the same routines, not really going overboard, trying to kill ourselves. We know what trouble we are in but we have to stay even-keeled – not too high, or low – and go about our business.
“You are going to have games where you are broken down, and, unfortunately, ours came in the game in hand. We just have to get back to what we were doing before.”
Wanderers skipper Kevin Davies described tomorrow’s game as potentially the most important in his nine years at the Reebok, and while Ream does not boast the same history with the club, he certainly understands the magnitude of the occasion.
“It’s such an important game,” he said. “It has been such a crazy season. Since I have been here we had the whole Fabrice thing, in the bottom three, out of the bottom three, and results from teams around us that you could never have dreamed would happen. There have been a lot of twists and turns but hopefully they are done with now. We’ve just got to focus on the task on Sunday.”
Ream has given Coyle a few scraps of information on the Baggies, which he picked up in his time at West Brom.
“They have changed their team a bit since I was there in December but I do have a better idea of the guys on the field,” he said. “Training with them was a valuable experience and hopefully it brings us the result we need. Any little advantage can help, so I’d like to think I’ve picked up a few things.”