Rank: 13 | Age: 20 | Starts: 2 | Appearances: 9 | Minutes: 827 | Goals: 1
Just when you think Fulhamerica is done, another American pops up at the club. Emerson Hyndman has been one of the jewels of the Fulham academy for quite some time. He was part of the team that almost one the youth FA Cup. He’s made appearances with the US National Team at every level, and is very close to becoming a regular with the full team at only 20 years old. His positioning and passing are very good. His defense isn’t bad. But he’s still learning how to play among much bigger and stronger people at his size.
Some may say that he’s got to get bigger and stronger himself to compete at the Championship or a higher level. And that may be true. However, you can succeed at his size. He’s nearly the same size as Luka Modric, and I don’t think you’ll find too many people saying he’s not big enough to play high level football.
Hyndman only started twice this season and played just 827 minutes. How did he end up this high? Part of that is his youth and hope. People love to project things on to the youth players. It might not be fair, but young players get people excited. Another part of it is the pure joy that happened when Hyndman scored his first professional goal. It just happened to be on his 20th birthday. And that goal, in the dying minutes of injury time was just enough to ensure Fulham’s place in the division for one more year. That’s a big moment, and one that caused him to jump up the rankings.
2016/17 Best Case
The biggest thing for Hyndman is that he needs to play. He’s been linked to some very big clubs, in some very good leagues, but how much playing time does he get at a place like that? He might end up back on loan at a club like Fulham, and having to earn a spot in a new situation without really gaining much. He could also move to a big club (Celtic) in a league that’s no better than the Championship. Sure he might get a few games of Champions League Football, but day in and day out; the competition he faces will be no better.
If I was his advisor, I’d tell him to re-sign at Fulham. He’s impressed Jokanovic and is sure to see much more playing time than he did in the previous season. He can negotiate a fair release clause into his new deal, so that he won’t be trapped at the club if an offer comes and he’s ready to move on. Too many times we’ve seen bright stars leave Fulham before they were ready and stagnate. Hyndman has the chance to be very good, but he’s going to need to play to get there and Fulham might be the best place for him to do that.
Rank: 12 | Age: 28 | Starts: 27 | Appearances: 2 | Minutes: 2385 | Assists: 1
We continue our further exploration of Fulhamerica with Tim Ream. Ream has always been a conundrum of a player. Is he a center back? Is he a left back? Is he a defensive midfielder? Is he just a swiss army knife you keep on squad to plug holes as needed? Since first suiting up in the Championship with Bolton he’s played center back in a back four 42 times. He’s played left back 58 times. He’s played center back in a back three 11 times. He’s played as a defensive midfielder six times. And he even has a handful of appearances at right back, right midfield, and left midfield. Is he starting quality at any of those positions? I’m not sure. But having one player who can play at least three positions and can play a fourth in a pinch is valuable.
I have to admit I was quite excited when I saw we had signed Ream. I’d been a fan since his MLS days, and though that in the right situation he could thrive. I thought when he played, he was one of the better defenders. Fulham’s defense always looked best when he was part of it on the left side in a back three. Ream just never seemed to get a long look in any one position. As soon as you thought he had found a place, the formation would change and so would the way he was used. Thing were further hampered when Fernando Amorebieta returned from his loan, as they are both very similar players. Amorebieta is probably the more talented player, but as the number of cards (Ream didn't draw a single card) and the number of fouls committed (Amorebieta’s foul rate was four times as high) show; Ream has much more discipline. That was something that the Fulham defense was really lacking. The think that we didn’t see enough of was his passing. I’d always thought his passing was very good, and while I didn’t see a lot of bad passes this season; I didn’t see enough of this.
2016/17 Best Case
The best case for Ream and the best case for the club might be different. With Hutchinson and Burn on the way out, and Stearman not showing a lot of quality; Ream, Madl, and Amorebieta are the top three choices to play center back. Reams best case is probably to with the position and be paired with Madl all year. But that might not be the best outcome for the club.
Ream will probably continue his jack of all trades role. He could be the third center back, the second left back, third right back, and depth at defensive midfield. The Championship season is a long slog, and he could still easily amass 2000 minutes again without ever being the top choice at any one position.