In his first blog for Goal.com, the Bolton defender writes about settling in England and fighting a relegation battle.
Hello and welcome to my new blog on Goal.com! I am excited to be sharing a little bit of my life here in England.
As you know, it has been a bit of a whirlwind the past few months since I moved over. The pressure of the relegation battle is upon us but I will try to keep you guys updated over the next couple of weeks.
Some of my friends from home ask me what it’s like and it really is unlike anything I experienced in MLS. There is so much pressure in each match and you can feel it in the stadium every week. The supporters have been fantastic though and we know they deserve the Premier League next season. It’s not always the prettiest soccer, but it’s all about coming together as a team and having the right mentality to fight through it. You try not to watch the other results too much but you cannot help but check and see how the other teams are faring. It is one thing to control your own destiny but a little help from the other teams in the table doesn’t hurt!
A few weeks ago during our off week, we took a trip to Dubai for five days to get away from the pressures of the daily grind. We spent some time relaxing on the beach, some training, resting our tired bodies and having a good laugh. There is some good banter among the guys and never a dull moment. We have a great team spirit and that is really keeping everyone positive for our chances down the stretch. It all starts with Owen Coyle, our manager. He is the most upbeat person I have ever come across in football and even in the face of a rough season with key injuries and lots of adversity, he is urging us on.
No one has thrown in the towel.
Another big difference is just the day to day professionalism and intensity at each training session. You have to show up each day ready to fight for your job or risk losing it. I definitely wouldn’t say that players in MLS are lazy or too content. My teammates and I always played hard every day. I just think that because the collective talent level and team depth are higher, players are forced to work that much harder to stand out. There are so many MLS players that could play in the EPL and I think we will see more coming over here.
Along those lines, I think the growing trend of young MLS players going to train at European clubs in the offseason is really beneficial. For players interested in making the jump to Europe, it gives you a chance to feel what the environment is like firsthand and see what will be required of you. A lot of other guys go simply to become better players. Then they can take that experience back to their MLS teams and help raise the level there.
On the personal side, I’ve settled well and am enjoying life here in England. The first few weeks were a little tough, living by myself in a hotel room, but now my wife and I have moved into a townhouse in a great neighborhood. We have a yard and garden which is nice. Most importantly, we have our dogs over here with us and they seem to be happy as well. We like to lay low and hang out with some of the other players. My wife is very friendly with David Wheater’s wife so we often have a meal together. There are lots of good restaurants in the area and we are loving the Indian food in Manchester.
Lastly, I wanted to take a second to thank you for the support you’ve given me both now and in New York. I’m still following the MLS season over here and pulling for the Red Bulls every game. If you’re an MLS fan without an EPL team that you already support, pull for Bolton these last couple weeks! Come on you Wanderers!
Talk to you again soon.
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