Guzan ready to challenge for starting spot at Aston Villa

GuzanGetty

By JOEY SAMUEL

CHESTER, Pa. — Brad Guzan has spent four years as a backup goalkeeper at Aston Villa. But this year, as he and his club prepare for a new Premier League season, the starting spot could be within reach.

Earlier this week, Guzan put pen to paper on a new contract that will keep him at Aston Villa for at least the next three years. The American goalkeeper had been mulling other options since his previous contract ended in June. But he eventually decided it was in his best interest to remain at the club and fight for the starting goalkeeper job.

"I had a really good conversation with the manager," Guzan said after Villa's 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night. "He said that everyone is going to have a go to make their mark on the team, and at the end of the day, that's all I wanted, to have an opportunity to prove myself.

"If I do well, then great, and if not, I've only got myself to blame," Guzan said. "We have a really good group of goalkeepers at this club, and I think that's a testament to the way we train."

On Wednesday, Guzan played all 90 minutes as he led Aston Villa to a shutout win over Philadelphia at PPL Park. It was the first game in a preseason tour of the United States, which will continue on Saturday in Guzan's hometown of Chicago. Guzan needs all the time he can get to showcase his abilities, as he will have to beat out last year's starter, Irish international Shay GIven, if he is to win the job.

Last season, Guzan made only seven appearances has he filled in for Given when the Irishman went down with an injury in December. But despite GIven starting the vast majority of last season's matches, new Villa manager Paul Lambert insisted Wednesday that the job is up for grabs.

"It's a real difficult position, goalkeeping," said Lambert. "You have to vie for a place with one other guy. Shay Given is a top goalkeeper. The two will battle against each other, and it's an even thing for me at the moment.

"The football club's got Shay Given, who is a fantastic goalkeeper, and Brad, everything I've seen from him has been excellent," Lambert said. "It's an even keel for everybody. I think everybody knows that, and it's great that he's signed at the club again. It's up to the individuals to try and get into the side for the first league game."

Aston Villa will continue their preseason tour of the United States on Saturday, when they face the Chicago Fire. For Guzan, that game holds special significance as he returns to his hometown.

"It helps us to be able to come over and see U.S. fans that obviosuly love the game in England, and at the same time it tests us and allows us to get ready for the season," Guzan said. "For me personally, being able to come back to the U.S., especially like this Saturday going back to Chicago where I'm from, I'm really looking forward to it."

After Saturday's game against Chicago, Guzan and Villa will finish up their tour of the U.S. when they face the Portland Timbers on Tuesday. Aston Villa opens the 2012-13 Premier League season on August 18, when they travel to Upton Park to face West Ham United.

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13 Responses to Guzan ready to challenge for starting spot at Aston Villa

  1. Will says:

    haven’t we read this one before? glad guzano’s getting paid though

  2. Lampard in the End Zone says:

    Lambert must have been a little more forthright with Guzan in private. He was dead set on leaving – to quickly turn around and sign for three years signals that Lambert, in my opinion, rates him higher than Given.

    Given is an excellent shot blocker, but his positioning and coming off the line are suspect.

  3. zayss''fr/ewa says:

    It really looks like Guzan actually has a chance. But this may motivate Given to do even better. I bet Given is the starter for this season unless he makes a huge mistake and then up to Guzan to keep it. Given is more valuable than Guzan, but Guzan is on much cheaper wages so might be better financially speaking for the club if he starts. But then you don’t pay huge money for Given to ride the bench.

    either way Guzan is still our no2. Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid and McMath need to move abroad if they ever wanna usurp that role.

  4. zayss''fr/ewa says:

    Guzan would have been a sure starter in the Championship. I’m suprised he didn’t try a chance in maybe Holland or Portugal but i guess even as a no2 in the PL gives you way more than as a no1 outside it.

  5. Old School says:

    Might as well get paid.

    Not sure I agree with the prospect of staying at Aston Villa but wish him the best.

  6. Brain Guy says:

    Speculating here, but it seems like the money is great, and he realizes that the #1 job with the MNT is Howard’s for the foreseeable future, even if Guzan were the #1 keeper somewhere else, and he still makes the squad as Howard’s backup even if he’s #2 at Villa.

  7. GW says:

    In one of the Birmingham papers Guzan says the reason he stayed was that he liked Lambert’s “vision for the club” after they spoke.

    What that means is anyone’s guess but people over there are speculating that Lambert is more inclined to give Guzan a better shot at the job, should Given slow down. Lambert’s history at Norwich where he played Ruddy almost every possible game, would seem to argue against that but then again he did not have two nearly equal keepers like he does now.

    With a three year contract, time is on Guzan’s side. Management obviously wants Guzan to beat out Given so they can cut Given’s 3.5 million for five years contract.

    If the two perform more or less equally, then younger, cheaper and healthier always beats out, older, more expensive and more brittle.

    Given is more experienced and more battle tested but that did not help Villa last year. I see no reason why Guzan can’t be as good or better than Given and do so very soon.

    If Villa is going to be challenging for honors then Lambert will try to keep the two keeper thing. If not then Guzan will get the nod permanently and Given will be sold off in the January transfer window.

    If you are a USMNT fan you want Guzan to beat out Given since Brad is the only US keeper currently capable of keeping the pressure on Howard, something that is necessary.

  8. NARTO says:

    Yep. I gotta imagine this is the easiest option as well. His only competition are 3 young MLS starters so it’s not as if he can be dropped to no6 on depth overnite. He’s our no 2 on the way to Brazil

  9. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    I was bummed actually that he didn’t go to another EPL team where he’s have a better shot at starting. I believe he’s better that maybe half of them, or am I way off here. I have to believe with the guy above who speculated Lambert gave him more than lip service to get him to re-sign. I say he starts Game 1 of the season. You heard it here first!

  10. Lava lamp says:

    +1

  11. CplDaniel says:

    IIRC Brad Guzan did great when Given got injured last spring for like a 4 or 5 weeks. I At the time it seemed to me that he was shoring up the Villa defense alot better than Given had been, AND EVEN THOUGH HE WAS DOING GREAT HE STILL HAD TO TAKE A BACK SEAT TO GIVEN.

    Hope he got a good signing bonus this summer.

  12. Brett says:

    Is he finally ready to challenge for the spot? What has he been doing the rest of his time there?

  13. Mike in Missouri says:

    If Given plays as poorly for AV as he did Ireland last month, Guzan shouldn’t have any problem beating him out.