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.
Beckham, 40, is still working on finalizing a stadium for his MLS team to play in, more on that below, but he has been speaking about his dream of becoming an owner and has earmarked the 2018 MLS season as when his franchise will arrive on the scene.
Beckham spoke to the Daily Star in the UK about his vision for the MLS club, and says the team he came up through the ranks with and played for professional for 12-years is the benchmark.
“We want the club to be run professionally — everything needs to be run like a club like Manchester United,” Beckham said. “You have to look at it like that. Luckily, I’ve had a little bit of experience in that and I definitely will be a demanding owner. I want the team to be successful and the club to be successful, so I think I have to be demanding.”
The former United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder also spoke about the lengthy delays with the stadium deal and how “dealing with the political side of things in Miami has been a lot more difficult” than he expected.
In fact, a source has told ProSoccerTalk that the proposed stadium site for Beckham’s franchise, directly next to Major League Baseball franchise Miami Marlins’ home, Marlins Park, in Little Havana, is still some way from being signed off on as many restrictions will be placed on Beckham and his ownership group before the first shovel hits the ground. Beckham himself said in his latest update that in six weeks time he hopes to name the stadium site.
However the source confirmed that any stadium announcement deal could be someway off as Beckham’s ownership group – which includes PR tycoon, agent and close friend Simon Fuller, plus Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Claure – still haven’t hammered out many of the specifics of a stadium deal with the City of Miami, while negotiations with the Marlins are also expected to take months before any stadium deal can be confirmed. The source added that the Marlins are positive about turning derelict land opposite their current Marlins Park home into an MLS stadium, but there are several conditions which have to be met in order for the stadium to be given the green light by the MLB franchise. These conditions include no MLS games conflicting with Marlins games, sponsorship deals not conflicting with those the Marlins have on the outside of their stadium and various other facets including transportation links and infrastructure.
The source goes on to note that several high-ranking City officials and business operators in and around Miami Dade County still feel unease towards Beckham and the razzmatazz surrounding his initial stadium plan to house his MLS team on a prime waterfront location in Downtown Miami (see photo, above) next to the Miami Heat’s American Airlines arena. Beckham has since accepted that his opening stadium plan was “cheeky” but many business leaders had their noses put out of joint and many are making it increasingly difficult for a stadium deal to get over the line for the former LA Galaxy star.
In terms of the specifics surrounding a potential new home for what will now, given the delays, surely become MLS’ 24th franchise in either 2018 or 2019, the location picked is just over two miles from Downtown Miami with good links via public transport and roads. It is in a neighborhood which has a tough past but is on the up as rap star Pitbull has just built a huge academy (Sports Leaders and Management Charter Middle/High School) offering opportunities for education to underprivileged children in the Little Havana community. Along with Marlins Park, the addition of an MLS franchise would undoubtedly bring plenty of jobs into the area and help boost the economy further.
Beckham’s dream of owning a team in Miami is edging closer to realization but it seems like it’s still some way off having a stadium to call home.
Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.
According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.
Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.
Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.
Source close to Cisse-Valbuena blackmail investigation told AFP Cisse expected to be "quickly exonerated" & "existence of video not proven."