Villa in Germany diary: Guzan - Luna says he’s 22 but he looks 42!
13th Jul 2013
I managed to fit plenty in during my time away from football.
I spent some time in my hometown Chicago, I went to the wedding of one of my wife's friends, then we both went on a cruise to the Caribbean and we also had a Fourth of July party.
But now I'm back - and it's like I've never been away from the lads.
It was great to see the smiles in the group when I got back and the liveliness was there from when my car parked up at Bodymoor on Saturday.
It's always great to see the boys when you come back.
Then, in the case of Gabby, you need another few days break! We're in Germany now but hopefully when I get back to England I can get away from him for a bit.
But, joking aside, we are all really excited about the coming season.
It's been really good here in the training camp. It's good facilities to work in. The lads are getting on great. And, importantly, the training pitches are within touching distance of the main complex. That's what we are here for.
It's literally about eating, sleeping and playing football. The number one reason we are here is to get ready for the season ahead and make sure we get our fitness up and then our football comes along with that step by step.
It's about getting to know the newboys too, of course, and vice-versa.
The manager is clearly bringing in players who are hungry and eager to learn. They want to do well and help the team, that's vitally important.
When you create that environment, which the manager is doing, good things will happen.
Let's start with Antonio. He's got a great beard first-off.
I was speaking to him a couple of days ago in my broken Spanish which I picked up when I was playing at Chivas USA.
I asked him how old he was and he told me he was 22. I said 'no chance, I am not buying it.' He looks about 42! I have to believe what he tells me though.
He's a good lad. He's confident on the ball. He is able to get forward which is important. I think he will be good for the squad.
Leandro is a good lad and excellent on the ball. He enjoys taking guys on. He's got really good feet. You can see that he's very technical.
Off the pitch - it's only been a few days - but he's full of confidence. He's not cocky but he thinks he has a bit about him. We will see how his banter is the next few days.
Nicklas is a bit on the quiet side, reserved, probably trying to find his feet.
He's made a great start, scoring a goal in that opening game against Rodinghausen.
He's a big lad. He has that size for a striker where he can outmuscle a few defenders. That will be important for us.
Aleksandar is finding his feet like Nicklas. He's figuring out what the squad and the team are all about and what the Premier League is all about.
Speaking to Stan Petrov, he tells me that Aleksandar is a young lad who wants to work hard and succeed.
His ability going forward looks effortless. He gets the ball and glides past players and gets crosses in or shots with both feet. That will be a huge asset for us.
There's Jores at the back too, of course. He's a good, friendly lad.
He played with one of my USA team-mates back at Nordsjælland, Michael Pankhurst.
I asked about Jores and he told me he's a really good lad, down to earth and quiet.
On the pitch, he's hard as nails. That will be important in the Premier League.
Jed is a really good kid. He's only young. He looks older than he is!
His confidence is there and his ability to understand situations and his composure on the ball is really good for a young goalkeeper. That's important. It's exciting working with him.
The manager has certainly done his homework in terms of bringing in fresh faces and new players who are going to add to the team spirit and the team quality.
It's not about quantity, it's about quality.
The new lads are coming into a team who went through a lot last year. They have settled in quickly which is important and I'm sure they will help us this year in a big way.
It feels like we have two other newboys with us this week in Gary Gardner and Marc Albrighton who are back involved after prolonged spells out with injury.
It's never easy when you see what's happened to them. They have had injury after injury - coming back and then picking up another one. You never want to see that happen.
To see them back involved in training and in matches is massive - for them individually and us as a team.
They will get their confidence up from training with us each week.
Overall, we're all looking forward to the new season now.
But it's important that we don't forget how well we finished the previous season because that was a big thing for us.
We have to think about that positive football, the work ethic we created, the vibe in the dressing room in training and matchdays and use all of that to kick on and continue to progress and improve.
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