American Exports: How George John fits at West Ham
AMSTERDAM — In the wake of George John’s move to West Ham United on loan from FC Dallas, there must be several questions banging around soccer fans’ heads. No worries. We're here to help.
Let's take these one at a time, press conference-style.
Were West Ham one of the clubs looking into John this past summer?
Nope. According to his agent, this deal happened very quickly, with the interest coming out of the blue.
Will he play for the Hammers?
Fact: West Ham have the stingiest defense in the league, having conceded only 23 goals in 26 matches.
However, this is the Championship. Which translates to "fixture crunch" in the Queen's English. The Hammers have 21 matches between now and the end of April.
In a recent match, against Coventry, manager Sam Allardyce was missing 10 players to injury or suspension (no word on how many sat for being subpar players). A couple of his defenders can be creaky, and another, James Tomkins, is a hot transfer topic these days.
In other words, John should see plenty of action.
If it becomes a full transfer, would it be a good move for him?
It's a pretty shrewd decision, actually. Setting aside the obvious bumps in pay, prestige and challenge, John is joining a big club that everyone expects to jump back up to the EPL this season. They are level on points at the top, with a good squad blend of experience and promising youth.
What's more, defenders Abdoulaye Fayé, George McCartney and Joey O'Brien are all set to run out of contract this summer.
With regards to style, the Championship could aid his strengths and cover his weaknesses. It's the fastest league in the world, the NBA of world soccer, and though John is not the most fleet of foot center back, his defensive cool and no-nonsense distribution can make up for that.
What's his new boss like?
His nickname is "Big Sam" — that about sums it up. He's a boisterous, competitive person who expects tight team defense and manages cohesive clubhouses. This all paid off at Bolton, failed at Newcastle, and had mixed results at Blackburn.
How many other Americans have played there?
First, let's start with who plays there now. Teen left back Danny Potts has prematurely played a couple games recently to cover a position crisis. He normally suits up for the second team along with fellow US youth international Sebastian Lletget.
Before that, of course, Jonathan Spector worked 115 games for the Hammers before departing last summer. Ian Feuer and John Harkes also had short stints at West Ham.
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