Earlier this week I received an email from FC Dallas blogger Steve Fenn. He offered to answer questions from me about Hammer new loan signing George John…
Why is George John so highly regarded?
When you watch him play, his most obvious advantage is strength in the air. George is very good at dealing with opposing crosses, but he’s also a legitimate threat on his team’s set pieces. To me, though, his consistency is even more important. He has very good positioning (rarely will he be the one to screw up an offsides trap), and usually frustrates the opposition forwards quite effectively. This gets reflected in the Opta-statistic-powered MLS Castrol Index where he ranked 8th best-performing player in the entire league last year. Say what you like about the relevance of advanced statistics in football, but I think this metric tends to reward players that consistently do all the little things well. That’s George John.
What kind of defender is he? A clogger or a Rio Ferdinand type who likes to bring the ball out of defence?
He’s comfortable playing balls out the back, but he’s rarely on the offensive end outside of set pieces. That may be more about a coaching decision than his abilities, since he was a very successful defensive midfielder in college, and seems quite comfortable with the ball at his feet. I should also note that pace is not his strong suit, though a combination of his positioning and pairing with some very fast defenders in Dallas have helped mask the issue.
He’s 24, but only played 72 games and hasnt ever played for the US national team. Is he really the real deal?
Keep in mind that over here most athletes go to university before turning professional. Teenage professionals have been the exception rather than the rule. Brad Friedel, Stuart Holden, Jay DeMerit, and Carlos Bocanegra all played at university before going pro. The University of Washington paid John’s tuition to play at a level comparable to the lower divisions in the US. In his college career he started 56 games and was subbed into 9 more, and wore the captain’s armband a lot of games in his junior and senior years. He earned his degree in business administration before he came to MLS. Starting at 22, 72 professional games before turning 24 isn’t so bad, though he did have some injury issues in his rookie year. As for the national team, he has attended 2 camps, and was invited to train with Greece once, too. A small injury derailed his one camp under Bob Bradley, and he was pulled from training for friendlies this month to travel to West Ham. In the last couple years, quite a few fans and journalists have pleaded for Bradley and Klinsmann to give him a chance.
Overall, I’ll be pleasantly surprised if he dramatically climbs the ranks of English football, but would be shocked if he is out of his depth in the Championship. I hope he gets the chance to test himself in the EPL next season. I wish he could stay in Dallas, but he’s in the last year of his contract, and the economics of our leagues dictate that your favorite club can pay him much more than mine can. Also, keep in mind that he’s in offseason form and fitness right now (FC Dallas’ season ended in October). Hopefully Allardyce has the sense to bring him along slowly for a couple weeks.
SOURCE:WEST HAM TILL I DIE