Young gets Villa smiling again

RANDY LERNER’S smile returned yesterday after the storm clouds that enveloped Aston Villa since last Sunday were given a gentle shove, although not entirely blown away.

Whether the American’s pearly whites will be on display on a regular basis remains at risk if he decides to stick to his preferred choice of promoting Kevin MacDonald from his caretaker status.

The back-slapping celebrations in the home dressing room will not have disguised the fact both knew they were fortunate to find victory here.

Whether MacDonald makes the short stroll from the exit of the tunnel to the Villa Park home dug-out again is hardly cut and dried, although it should become clearer shortly.

He expects to meet Lerner in the next 48 hours to announce whether he wants to be considered as a candidate.

He will do so after replacing the “terrible lows” of defeats against Newcastle United and Rapid Vienna, with the “highest of highs”

MacDonald admits he would be lying if he said he has not enjoyed his three weeks and five games as Martin O’Neill’s temporary replacement.

He would also be lying if he claimed to have enjoyed every minute, especially the last week.

“I want to think about it and will speak to Mr Lerner by early Tuesday at the latest. I still don’t know if it is for me. I have had thoughts where I want to do it and I have had thoughts that this is not what my life is about. I also have to believe I am going to be good enough,” said MacDonald.

The fact there has been such a period of reflection must be worrying for Lerner and MacDonald’s short tenure has been stressful.

The loss of Stephen Ireland because of a hamstring injury suffered in the warm-up was far from ideal after shipping nine goals in 180 minutes, but the fact he has identified Luke Young as a better option at right-back than Carlos Cuellar is a move in the right direction.

How O’Neill felt the Spaniard deserved to keep the former England international warming the bench is a mystery.

Young’s superb finish, set up by his namesake Ashley was the defining moment early in the first half.

Villa had other chances, but Marc Albrighton spurned one of the best, shooting over from six yards and Tim Howard made one exceptional save to keep out Ashley Young’s shot, after it had deflected off Phil Jagielka, but David Moyes, the Everton manager, will spend most of the international break trying to work out why his side extended a miserable record at Villa Park to just one win in 23 games.

Everton dominated possession to embarrassing proportions. They had 68% share of the ball and forced over four times as many corners.

“We controlled the game from the first minute, but it is goals that win games and we are not scoring any. The only statistic that matters is they have one and we have none,” said Moyes.

They were hardly without opportunities. Steven Pienaar struck the bar with a delicious curling shot from the corner of the area.

Jack Rodwell missed with a free header and sub Louis Saha enlivened proceedings after another difficult afternoon for Jermaine Beckford, who departed after a miserable 55 minutes out of his depth, was prevented from claiming an equaliser by Brad Friedel’s agility at the near post all of which culminated in Everton recording their worst start to the season for a decade.

“Ah that is another milestone I have managed,” added Moyes.

The self-deprecation was administered with a wince and it is hard not to have sympathy for the Everton boss.

ASTON VILLA (4-4-1-1): B Friedel 8; L Young 9, J Collins 8, R Dunne 8, S Warnock 7; M Albrighton 7, N Reo-Coker 6, S Petrov 6, S Downing 7; A Young 8; J Carew 6 (G Agbonlahor 67,6).

Subs not used: B Guzan, E Heskey, N Delfouneso, C Cuellar, E Lichaj, B Bannan.

EVERTON: (4-4-1-1): T Howard 7; T Hibbert 6 (Heitinga 81,6) S Distin 6, P Jagielka 6, L Baines 7; J Rodwell 7 (S Coleman 71.7) , M Fellaini 7, M Arteta 8 S Pienaar 7; T Cahill 7, J Beckford 5 (Saha 55,7).

Subs not used: J Mucha, D Bilyaletdinov, M Gueye, L Osman.

Referee: Michael Jones.

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