MIAMI—Brad Guzan’s miserable year at Aston Villa is finally over, and the veteran goalkeeper is hoping a successful summer with the US national team will help remove the bitter taste from his club’s relegation from the English Premier League.
Guzan and Villa finished dead last in the 20-team EPL, ending the year with a 3-27-8 record, 17 points behind 19th-place Norwich City and 18 points from safety. Guzan appeared in 28 EPL matches, his lowest total since taking over as starter in the 2012-13 season, and yo-yoed between the field and the bench over the second half of the campaign.
“As you can imagine it was frustrating, it was hard,” Guzan said on Thursday. “It wasn’t the season we wanted and so we have to regroup and try to push for promotion straightaway.”
The 31-year-old ‘keeper flew from England to Miami following Villa’s season finale on Saturday, where he joined the USMNT for this week’s “transition camp” ahead of the upcoming Copa America Centenario.
He still has a year left on his contract with Villa, and indicated on Thursday that he plans on staying with the club as they prepare to move to the Championship next season.
That decision isn’t entirely in his hands, however. Villa went through three managers last season, and don’t currently have a head coach. More pressing, the club was officially sold on Wednesday, with Chinese businessman Dr. Tony Xia buying the team from American Randy Lerner.
Xia told reporters on Wednesday that he’s aiming to make Villa a “top-three” club in the world in less than 10 years. He confirmed that he’s been in discussions with former Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo and ex-Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson about the club’s coaching vacancy, and said that he’ll give his new manager up to about $70 million to spend on new players this summer.
Xia said that he thinks Villa “will add six-to-seven players in maybe six or seven positions” before the start of the Championship season. Just how that affects Guzan, who has been with Villa since 2008, remains to be seen.
“Obviously, I just saw the news regarding the sale. I think Randy Lerner has been trying to sell for some time and now they’ve got that over the line in terms of the new owner,” Guzan said. “We’ll see what that brings. At some point they’ll name a new manager, so obviously that’s going to be important. But in terms of myself, I’ve got a year left [on my contract], so I don’t know what’s going to happen. As far as I know, I’m still under contract so nothing’s changed in that sense.”
Guzan doesn’t yet know how he’ll be used by the USMNT in the Copa America. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has rotated Guzan and goalkeeper Tim Howard in the US’s last four World Cup qualifiers, and he wasn’t giving anything away about how he’ll deploy his ‘keepers this summer when he spoke to media in Miami earlier this week.
Despite sitting out Villa’s final three matches, Guzan feels like he’s in good form heading into Copa. After such a difficult year on the club level, he’d love an opportunity to get between the sticks in such a huge tournament for the US.
“I feel good, I feel confident,” he said. “It’s been a long, frustrating year, but in saying that I’ve never wavered in my own belief and in my own confidence. I feel ready, I feel sharp.”
“I’m looking forward to this summer.”