Ream puts strong case for the defence
TIM Ream believes tonight’s final warm-up against Barcelona’s young guns will provide an accurate indicator of where Wanderers ’ defence is at.
After keeping just one clean sheet in seven summer games, the jury is out on whether Owen Coyle’s side really have enough steel about them heading into the new Championship season.
They face a final examination at the Reebok against Barca’s B team, and US international Ream is not expecting an easy ride.
“They will play the same way their top guys do, they will move the ball around a lot, and it’s going to stretch us defensively, no doubt about it,” he said.
“It will be a test of how organised we are and, hopefully, we can stay solid, then try and make a few chances of our own and take one.
“But going into next weekend it will be a very good exercise even though you have to be realistic with your expectations playing against a side like Barcelona.
“The biggest thing is that we want to stay compact defensively, and if we do that I think we’ll be happy.”
Ream admits it has taken time for the new defensive unit to settle over the last month – not least in what the centre-half described as a “rough” performance at Portsmouth – but the 24-year-old saw signs in the 3-1 victory at Prenton Park that things are starting to gel.
“That’s what pre-season is for – getting to know new players or new systems,” he said. “We’ve had a rotation going on between Zat (Knight), Millsy (Matt Mills) and myself and I think we’ve formed a pretty good partnership now.
“I always say you learn more with the tough results, and even though you don’t read too much into them, the Portsmouth game showed we needed to improve.
“We’ve got to push each other now for the final week and try to get that starting spot because I don’t think anyone is guaranteed.”
The proof in the pudding will be how Wanderers fare at Turf Moor next weekend, when Owen Coyle takes his side back to familiar territory. Ream is acutely aware that standards on that occasion cannot slip as far as they did at Fratton Park recently.
“I haven’t been there before but of course I know with the player movement and the managerial movement, there’s a bit of extra spice to it all,” he said.
“It’ll be interesting. If we perform the way we did against Tranmere we’ll be fine, but if we reverted to how we played last Saturday at Portsmouth then none of us are going to be happy.”