Fulham’s United States international defender Tim Ream is anticipating a competitive, intense game against Aston Villa in Saturday’s Championship promotion playoff final.
Fulham is one win away from a first return to the Premier League since the 2013-14 campaign.
“I think it’ll be cagey, in the beginning, I think both teams are going to feel each other out” Ream said, in an interview with ESPN. When we played them earlier in the season [and lost], we weren’t at full strength, and when we played them towards the back end of the season [and won], they weren’t at full strength.
“So it’s going to be interesting to see who blinks first, we have a style that we don’t change, they have a style that they’ve been pretty consistent with all year, so I think it’s going to be tight for the first 20-30 minutes, then I think things will open up a bit.
“I think it’s going to be a fantastic day, it’ll be a great final and it’s two of the best teams in the Championship going at it for a place in the Premier League.”
“I’ve been the same player,” Ream said. “I’ve not changed anything, I’ve been the same player. It’s a system that suits my style and my strengths. I obviously have to put that down to the manager. When I first came in we tried to play it this way but for whatever reason the cohesion and the players weren’t there.
“Over the course of two years now, the confidence that the manager has not only given myself but the entire team and the ability and the freedom to go and play no matter the situation has just brought the best out of us and I am no different.”
Ream was complimentary of his 18-year old teammate Ryan Sessegnon.
“Obviously I don’t train against all the other [players] every day of the week, but just his attitude, his work rate, everything he puts into training, on the pitch and in the gym is just incredible,” Ream said.
“He’s the most humble kid I’ve ever met. And I think that’s what’s going to take him very far. You know he doesn’t get too up, doesn’t get too down, if he struggles in a game he puts it behind him, and he just goes about his business.”
Ream is taking his missing out on automatic promotion this year hard, saying it was a “difficult pill to swallow”.
“It was there for us at the end of the year and we didn’t perform against Birmingham and ultimately that cost us,” Ream said. “But at the same time I think that most of us feel that had we won then Cardiff would have probably have won as well.
“You can’t dwell on it and in this division, games come so fast and we knew that had we not done it then we would have another chance and here we are. We obviously played very well against Derby in the first leg and we went 1-0 down and lost the game.
“But we thought we were the better team in that first leg and we were very confident going into the second one. Thankfully, I say thankfully, but we knew everyone was going to show up on the night and perform and we did.”