Feature: Popular NBC presenter Carolyn Manno on Villa love
When NBC agreed a multi-million dollar deal to show Barclays Premier League football across the USA, one of the station's most popular presenters realised she had to get involved and pick a side to support.
New York-based Carolyn Manno, 29, is a huge sports fan and wanted to get fully involved in the soccer conversation after interest spread across the network.
After hour and hour of research on the internet, Manno saw only one option for her attention and affection - Aston Villa.
Her choice was given the thumbs-up by good friend - and fellow female anchor - Rebecca Lowe, who hosts the Barclays Premier League football coverage.
"Ultimately, I made the decision to be an Aston Villa fan because I was looking for a group of young and talented players, who had a chance to be great," she said.
"I didn't want to go for one of the trendy picks over here in the USA, the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.
"I wanted to find a team with legitimate potential and talent.
"I actually consulted one of our Premier League hosts, Rebecca Lowe, and told her I was thinking about Aston Villa. She immediately responded with a resounding "Yes!! They are the team for you."
"After Rebecca's vote of confidence, I began to research the Villans a little more.
"I love the fact that the club is so steeped in history.
"I started thinking about how cool it would be to see "my team" play against rivals Birmingham City at Villa Park. I'd love to see that.
"I also like the fact that our goalie is an ace from the US, Brad Guzan. It also didn't hurt that I love the colours of the team. You gotta love that claret and blue.
"I have already had so much fun just familiarising myself with the roster and watching skilful guys like Christian Benteke, Andreas Weimann and Gabby Agbonlahor - and I like the look of Aleksandar Tonev too.
"Even though I am a new fan, the hard-fought losses have been tough to handle. But I know my guys in claret and blue have special things in store this season.
"All of my colleagues have chosen a team. There is a bunch of trash talking that happens over the course of the week in the office but don't worry guys, I hold my own. I've got us covered."
Manno leads a very busy life in the sports world. The University of Florida graduate covers the NFL for Football Night in America - the highest rated sports show on primetime television in the USA.
She travels to one of the NFL's biggest games every weekend, in order to file a post-game report live after the match is over.
The report is part of their coverage leading into Sunday Night Football, focusing on the premier game of the week in the NFL.
She also hosts a sports news show - Monday through Friday - called "Sports Dash with Yahoo Sports" on the NBC Sports Network from 12noon-1pm.
There is also a 15 minute live after-show, called "Sports Dash Live", which streams on the web only.
She has covered a variety of American sports - NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and College Football.
In addition, she has also worked on the Olympics and the Tour de France throughout the course of her busy career.
But, despite all this hustle and bustle, she always finds time to feed her claret and blue fix.
"I really enjoy watching Villa on weekend mornings while grabbing a cup of coffee and skimming the New York Times. There is something relaxing about waking up on a Saturday and turning on the game. Though the level of relaxation depends on how Villa are playing!
"Watching sports early in the morning - which is obviously the case over here - is a fun and different experience for fans, as most of what we watch is on at night.
"To get my claret and blue fix while I'm in the road, I'll check in with www.avfc.co.uk and search for the team on Twitter to see what the fan buzz is."
Manno is proud of the NBC commitment to covering football over in the States.
And she believes it's not some short-term thrill. She believes interest will grow and grow.
"The buzz around the Premier League is palpable at NBC. It's been incredible. NBC has been steadfast in its commitment to marketing the sport to new fans too.
"When I am getting around New York City, it is so exciting to see promos on the TV monitors in the cabs - and signs for Aston Villa on top of the taxis.
"The network also runs these really funny ads with a famous actor in the USA named Jason Sudeikis. They are entertaining for new fans.
"I think overall, the passion for Premier League is growing rapidly over here in the United States.
"I meet more fans every day, particularly within the age bracket of 20 to 35.
"When I was deciding which team I was going to root for - which didn't take long! - I was immediately bombarded on Twitter by Liverpool, Newcastle United and Tottenham fans...among others. It was great!
"The fans are so passionate and it is amazing the kind of pitch a diehard Premier League fan will make for your fandom - even in 140 characters or less.
"But it's Villa all the way for me. I'm a fan. I will stay a fan. And I can't wait to see how we progress in the coming years. Exciting times ahead!"
Follow Carolyn Manno on Twitter.
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