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Johnson enters hypercompetitive world

Martin Rogers
Yahoo Sports

Eddie Johnson has been mentally preparing for a move from Major League Soccer to the English Premiership for several months, but that does not guarantee that his transition into one of the world's toughest leagues will be any easier.

Since August, Johnson has had a fair indication that he would be bound for the U.K. during January's transfer window, a switch that was finally realized Wednesday when the British government granted him a work permit so he could join Fulham.

Yet however much thought and visualization has taken place in the former Kansas City Wizards striker's mind over the past few months, nothing can fully prepare him for what lies ahead.

Johnson needs to understand the remainder of this season will throw him some of the toughest challenges he has ever faced in his career.

Here is the lowdown on Johnson's big transfer – what steps he should take, why he can succeed in England and the potential pitfalls he faces.

TOP THREE THINGS TO DO

1. Be humble: Johnson is a naturally confident character but if he steps into the Fulham locker room with a cocky attitude, he will be on his heels right away.

To be accepted by his colleagues, he needs to put his head down, work hard and show respect to the club's senior professionals.

Ditching the diamond-encrusted jewelry he likes to sport around his neck and wrist might not be a bad idea.

2. Speak to Brian McBride: McBride has a superb reputation among English soccer folk – for a good reason. The 35-year-old American is a perfect example of what can be achieved with commitment and dedication.

He is regarded around the Premiership as a first-rate individual and a worthwhile addition to any squad.

McBride has already helped Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey settle in at Fulham, and even went out of his way to help Jonathan Spector at rival West Ham. Johnson would be well advised to watch and learn from his fellow countryman.

3. Be careful what you say: Johnson will find that the London tabloid press is different than the good folk at the Kansas City Star.

While his honest and forthright answers make him a pleasure to interview for most journalists, if Johnson is not careful his responses could be taken the wrong way and end up as the following day's sensationalist headlines.

Referring to himself in the third person would not endear him to the London scribes, who take a dim view of egotism.

TOP THREE REASONS WHY HE CAN SUCCEED

1. Physique: Johnson is big and strong and has improved his levels of physical conditioning in recent seasons.

During the recent United States training camp in Los Angeles, he was regularly at the front of the pack in running drills.

Also, he is not afraid to get physical, as highlighted by his mature performance as a lone striker when the Wizards knocked Chivas USA out of last season's playoffs.

2. He's got a scoring touch: When Johnson is feeling good he can be a lethal finisher and he has often gone on prolonged scoring streaks.

His scoring flurry at the start of the 2007 MLS season was impressive, as was his achievement in scoring seven goals in his first six World Cup qualifiers for the United States.

If he hits his groove straight away, then he would quickly become a fan favorite in west London, and parlay that momentum into a successful career there.

3. He is confident: Only time will tell whether Johnson has the tools to be a hit in England but one thing is for certain: he believes he does.

Sometimes, that is half the battle. There are countless examples of players who have, deep down, questioned their ability to perform at such a high stage after arriving in England.

Well before this move went through, Johnson told Yahoo! Sports he was confident he could be an impact player in England, and he needs to retain faith in his ability.

TOP THREE REASONS WHY HE MAY NOT

1. Fulham's situation: Right now, confidence is still high that Fulham can fight its way out of trouble under new manager Roy Hodgson.

However, if results continue to go the wrong way and the club remains in the relegation zone, it may not take much for the mood to shift.

Such a situation would not be an ideal environment for someone who thrives in an upbeat setting.

2. Tough breeding ground: There is no formula for success in the Premiership. Some of the most talented players in the world have failed to settle in a league which is unforgiving of underperformers.

Johnson can expect close attention from hardened defenders who will be in no mood to allow him to settle in gently.

The general level of play is nothing he has seen in MLS and every game, particularly in the tense relegation battles near the end of the season, is played at a ferocious pace.

3. Inconsistency: Johnson performed well for Kansas but even if he'd suffered a prolonged spell of poor form, there was little chance it could cost him his place.

As the Wizards' highest paid player and the "face" of the franchise, his spot was virtually guaranteed.

Not so at Fulham, where competition for places will be tough. New signing Marlon King, Diomansy Kamara (when he returns from the African Nations tournament) and McBride (when he returns from injury) will all be pushing for a starting spot and bad performances are likely to result in demotion to the bench.

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