DC United v New York Red Bulls

Anybody worried about New York and Mike Petke? Because you shouldn’t be

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I don’t know about you, but I personally like to store up my “worry points” and employ them judiciously.

If I am a New York Red Bulls supporter, I am certainly not raising my favorite microbrew and toasting this concerning start, one that has seen Mike Petke’s team go winless in its first four matches, collecting just two of a possible 12 points along the way.

On the other hand, no one should pull the panic lever just yet. Here’s why:

Reason No. 1: The Red Bulls opening schedule was always a tough one – and it got tougher because Montreal quickly established itself as holders of shockingly high quality. (The Red Bulls fell in Montreal on Saturday, 1-0.) Just those opening two matches alone, back-to-back cross country trips to the West Coast, would be enough to potentially scar most teams.

So, anyone who expected gangbusters to launch 2013 probably wasn’t looking at things realistically.

Reason No. 2: The Red Bulls have performed quite well in spurts. In fact, they’ve been better than the other guys in big stretches.

Petke’s men had moments to be proud of in opening the season with a 3-3 draw in Portland. Considering the apparent improvement to Caleb Porter’s Timbers this year, most MLS teams would take that result out of the Jeld-Wen Field cauldron.

They did OK in a subsequent match in San Jose, although the side threw it all into the San Francisco Bay with 10 mad minutes of self-destruction at the end (most of which was Roy Miller meltdown-related).

Reason No. 3: A week after that, the Red Bulls were dominant against visiting D.C. United but quite unlucky not to get all three points. On some other day, with just a little more lean of good fortune their way, that home-opening scoreless draw would have been a 2-0 or 3-0 Red Bulls’ win. Petke had the team where he wanted it that day in Harrison; things just didn’t fall right.

Reason No. 4: We already talked about Montreal’s surprising quality, so Saturday’s 1-0 loss in Quebec shouldn’t concern a Big Apple soul. Especially since the Red Bulls blew several scoring chances, opportunities the injured Thierry Henry may have handled quite differently.

If Petke can hold the line and not panic, just keep on keepin’ on, as they say, he’ll be fine.

He won’t be perfect as a young manager. He’s the first to say so, telling me just that and more down in Arizona six weeks ago.

But he has the players’ respect, and that goes a long way. We are four rounds into a long, long MLS season. The Red Bulls rookie head coach still has something to prove, obviously, but there’s nothing at this point to suggest he can’t get hold of this thing.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.