After taking an early lead through a lovely free kick from Ashley Westwood, Aston Villa fell 4-1 to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday. That’s two straight 4-1 losses for the Villa, with both sides coming from behind to cruise to victory – yet Paul Lambert doesn’t seem too concerned.
Speaking after the match, the Villa boss said “I thought the scoreline was pretty harsh on us. We had chances to pull it back. You’re obviously disappointed about being beaten 4-1 but there’s a lot to take out of the game.”
Villa fans might disagree, especially after experiencing a certain déjà vu throughout the match, thinking they might have flashbacked to last week’s loss to Stoke City. It didn’t help watching Christian Benteke waste a fantastic chance, or seeing the defense fall to pieces again and again. Fans may be wondering what, exactly, there is to take from that match.
The Villa still look safe, sitting eight points above the relegation zone, but after this weekend’s results, it’s starting to seem like every side in the bottom half of the table might still be in danger of the drop.
But Lambert remains positive on relegation as well: “We’re in a decent position but we need to get another couple of wins or so. I don’t set a points target because if you do and you don’t hit it, it becomes disappointing.”
With games against Fulham, then Crystal Palace on deck, you have to wonder if Villa fans are hoping that Lambert would set at least a small target: six points. 40 in total, the traditional number needed for Premier League safety. It’s achievable – and perhaps having a target would give this Villa side a goal. Particularly since they looked, shall we say, rather aimless against United.
But can he grow a beard?
Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford is known for his darting runs and clever finishes, but he grew up begging to get between the sticks with a lot of love for an American.
“Howard was my idol. I used to have a little Tim Howard shirt.”
[ MORE: Dempsey still wants USMNT role ]
Rashford said he’d ask his youth coach to allow him to play goal so he could mimic his hero, who at the time was the Manchester United backstop and now USMNT legend.
The 20-year-old was nine when Howard left Old Trafford, but it hasn’t changed his enjoyment for tending goal. Rashford joked that he’s got to be the choice to replace David De Gea in case of a post-sub emergency.
David Moyes‘ first match in charge of West Ham United sees a striker change at Vicarage Road against testy Watford (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE
Andy Carroll will be up top, and Andre Ayew is hurt to boot.
Marco Silva leads Watford’s hosts with Adrian Mariappa, Christian Kabasele, and Miguel Britos at the back of a 3-5-2.
Watford: Gomes; Mariappa, Kabasele, Britos; Femenía, Cleverley, Doucouré, Zeegelaar; Hughes, Richarlison; Gray. Subs: Karnezis, Prödl, Holebas, Capoue, Pereyra, Carrillo, Okaka.
West Ham United: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyate, Obiang, Arnautovic, Lanzini, Carroll. Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Rice, Fernandes, Quina, Sakho, Martinez.
Clint Dempsey is tied with Landon Donovan for the most goals in USMNT history, and seems set to continue with the side in some capacity as he threatens to stand alone in American history.
[ MLS: Steve Bruce to Miami? ]
The 34-year-old striker spoke with Steve Zakuani on the Sounders’ web site (video below) and said he’s happy to accept continued call-ups should they arrive from USSF headquarters.
“We’ll see what happens,” Dempsey said.” I mean, in terms of what I’ve been able to accomplish with the national team, I’m at peace with it. It’s not really about me. It’s about a group of guys that want to be moving forward.
“If there’s an opportunity that comes where you get to play a role and try to help and I’m feeling good and I’m playing well, then yeah, you’ll never say no. But you know, if the call never comes I’m still happy, still at peace, and focused on being here and trying to make the most of the time I have left.”
There are a number of players whose national team futures should be in question, but Dempsey is in a different class. No one has debated his motor or fuel, and his engine is still there (to complete the Springsteen-esque car comparisons, he remains one of the only things that qualifiers as chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected, and steppin’ out over the line).
If anything, he plays too close to the edge. That’s not something I see as one of the Yanks’ problems right now, so perhaps Dempsey needs to be viewed like Cuauhtemoc Blanco or Carlos Ruiz as a CONCACAF guy who’s around as long as he wants to be a part of it.
I mean, shoot, if Dempsey wants to keep passing the fire to Christian Pulisic and now Weston McKennie, there are far worse ambassadors for the program. He’s the most accomplished field player in recent history, and will be able to share so much when it comes to balancing club and country.
Heck, maybe he needs to be the late era Ryan Giggs of the 2018-2022 USMNT.
He’s got the same initials as South Beach, you know?
Steve Bruce is being tipped to be the first manager of David Beckham’s Miami MLS outfit, according to The Sun.
[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup ]
It’s going to be some time before Bruce would have the opportunity. The 56-year-old former Manchester United star has Aston Villa in a Football League Championship promotion push, and Miami does not even have a start date for life on an MLS pitch.
Of course, managerial life tends to be short, so there’s no guarantee Bruce will have a job at any point during the build-up to Miami in MLS. And several expansion clubs have named their coach very early in the team building process (Jason Kreis and Bob Bradley amongst others).
Bruce on MLS’ parity-driven playing field, if not as one of the big spenders, would be intriguing to watch. He’s a terrific man motivator and has the connections to combine with Beckham to make something special happen in terms of personnel.