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Petrov - A Roar Or A Whimper?

Petrov - A Roar Or A Whimper?

I'm sorry, I'm really not sure I follow this.

We all know that Stiliyan Petrov, to date, has failed to live up to his reputation or his price tag since moving from Celtic to Villa Park last summer.

His debut against West Ham at Upton Park was totally sublime, many of his performances since have been quite the opposite to the point where even Martin O'Neill - who has stuck by the Bulgarian international through thick and thin - had to drop him against Chelsea.

Now, once again, Martin O'Neill has now promised that the player will come good and then says:

'Stiliyan Petrov is going through a tough time at this minute but he'll come back. The crowd have got more than anxious at a time when he maybe needs them behind him, just to settle him down.'

Now I totally agree that heckling a player is wrong. Always has been, always will be. When a player in on the pitch in the mighty claret and blue shirt, they have to have our support. But can the crowd really be blamed for the natural reaction of what becomes a 'collective groan' when a player gives the ball away? Sometimes the players have to stand up and be counted surely? So do managers, I've thought a few times that playing him when so clearly out of form was unfair and confidence shattering, but then I don't suppose I'm allowed to say that am I?

The player should have settled in by now, simple as that. He set the bench mark very high following his debut, I actually thought we'd bought the new magic Merse and there really isn't higher praise than that.

Maybe I'm just a grumpy git, but apart from the boo boys who I have no time for at all, I think the fans ARE there supporting week in week out - and lets face it, times haven't exactly been good for the last five seasons have they? So I'm not sure what more we can do. Should we all stand and cheer next time Petrov makes a half arsed pass or maybe begin a Mexican wave (well, to be fair I do a one man Mexican wave each game, that said, I'm a pratt!). Sometimes do the players not have to give something back? Ok everyone suffers poor form at times (just ask my ex-girlfriends!) but that should never stop 100% commitment EVERY minute on the pitch, that is what the extortionate wages the players get these days demands surely?

O'Neill continued on the official site: 'It's been suggested that I've put Stiliyan in front of some of the other lads simply because I'd bought him. The bottom line is I really couldn't care less who's in the team - if the players are doing it for me, then I couldn't care less whether he cost £6.5m or £200,000.'

The actions don't really follow that through, but then again he is the manager and it is only his decision that ever matters whilst in charge of the team, he see's them training, he knows what he wants and it is his job on the line if the results don't follow, we only see a fraction of what goes on.

O'Neill continued: 'If I think they deserve to go into the side, they will go in the side. That's why I think Craig Gardner was a bit unlucky against Chelsea. He's not a right-back, he's essentially a midfielder. You could turn around and tell me Shaun Maloney, who I paid £1m for, was desperately unlucky not to play against Chelsea. You can go down that road until you're blue in the face. No one has a divine right to be in the team. I'd hope that at some stage the same would apply to Gareth Barry, but he's so good for us at the moment that he's in.

Finishing, 'If I had someone better than Ashley Young - and there's not many better than him anyway up and down the country - then he'd play. We have a squad here and all these boys will play games. I'm not saying we've got the ability to rotate like the top four sides, but we'll need these players. It's got nothing to do with justification - I left Stiliyan Petrov out the team at Celtic and for some European games. But he always came roaring back.'

Come on then Stiliyan, the claret and blue faithful are willing you to come roaring back for us, well to start roaring at any rate. I'd certainly prefer to see Craig Gardner and Shaun Maloney get their chances first though!

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

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Writer:J P Fear
Date:Thursday September 6 2007
Time: 5:33PM


We were 1 up against Chelsea and hanging on for grim death and MON brings on PETROV! and moans about the crowd groaning come on! The obvious choice if we were going to play with 1 up front was the much more energetic and in MONs own words unlucky Gardner who would have run his legs off for the cause. You got away with it MON stop making excuses for Petrov and play your best team!
06/09/2007 18:28:00
JF - if this is an accurate summary of MON's utterances, then in my opinion he's talking rubbish. His job as manager, at the end of the day is to field the best team. Whatever excuses he keeps coming up with for Petrov are irrelevant. Quite simply he's not playing well enough, even to be sitting on the bench. In my opinion, he's not settled in the Prem and I feel sure his fitness level and sharpness is just not good enough. MON just has to move on and exclude him from selection until he shows he can perform at the top of his ability, week-in, week-out. Play Gardner and Maloney (and Berger, when fit) who will give 110%.
06/09/2007 19:16:00
It is accurate villacross, I never cut out select quotes just to prove a point, the interview was on the official site. A few weeks being dropped (not even on the bench) might focus the mind. I thought a few times last season that the player looked shot of all confidence and that it was pretty unfair to be playing him whilst performing so badly.
The Fear
06/09/2007 19:59:00
(oh, that didn't read right villacross, wasn't thinking for a minute that you were accusing me of doing a cut and paste to suit my argument!!!!)
The Fear
06/09/2007 20:00:00
Several things come out of those comments, and despite risking the wrath of the God squad here goes. O'Neill knows there is a problem with Petrov, he knows the fans and many in the media see him as a failure and he is, as is his want trying to justify his actions. He played Petrov for far too long, he's excused Petrov for far too long but even he has noted the team are suffering if Petrov plays. He always plays his own players first he's never done it different, at 8 million Petrov remains a big mistake. Even now as above he's looking to excuse a poor performance, by trying to shift blame to the fans he's putting Villa fans down in his justification. Plenty have believed his rhetoric, even now some fans say we should give him more time to settle and have started bleating similarly about Carew. Instead he should continue as he's started this season and keep him on the bench and while he's there he should sort out Petrov's problem rather than justifying his own incompetence. The bloke has talent, as the West Ham game showed, what's gone wrong from there ? That's the question we should be asking, does he lack motivation, is he upset at Villa for some reason, I wonder. Carew scores 2 goals against Argentina and their media rave about him, in the same month he can't hit a barn door the size of Villa Park, why? No doubt in a few months O'Neill will be justifying him as the General has already done. Mind in Carew's case I think he's just a chance he'll be gloating at how good he's done to turn him into a super striker, who knows.
06/09/2007 20:02:00
I remember being gutted when he chose Villa over Pompey, he has quality, just it isn't bursting through right now
06/09/2007 20:14:00
He has to prove himself now, the honeymoon period is long over. Carew on the other hand is a menace to defences, as shown against Chelsea. He's no '20 goal a season striker', admittedly(can't believe I coined that ridiculus phrase), but he causes problems when he plays. Carew doesn't look 100% fit to me though, maybe he will get fitter over the season. Its all on MON now, as he says, 'it's a results business, and results is what he has to deliver now. UTV
06/09/2007 20:39:00
In asking us to get behind him it implies he will be in the team or coming off the bench. Why? I would like to get behind him when he has done a stint in the reserves and played his way back into the reckoning. He nearly lost us all the hard work agaist Chelsea within a couple of minutes of coming on. He is uncreative and a defensive liability. Gardner has been great as have Luke Moore and Maloney. All deserve a place in the starting line up and Man utd played for years with the likes of Mark Hughes Cantone and Ollie GS as their strikers. With the kind of silky football on the wings we managed against Chelsea, Maloney just behind Luke Moore instead of Carew would potentially be a very creative and potent format. Carew has done well though - but for me Maloney could alternatively replace Petrov too. As said by others with Gardner, Maloney and Berger to come back it is just not on to even consider Petrov for a place on the bench for any Premier game. Fact is if MON plays him and he continues his current form for one more game - then come the end of the season and we miss out on Europe by 2 points then it will be a travesty. Best team all the time. Villa cannot compete with the Big 4 but to get close we need a great team spirit and that is helped by consistent selection of the best players. The valiant few that won us the League in 1981 were testimony to that and the all conquering Leeds team of the late 60s/70s - everyone who remembers that era can still recite their team now. Times have moved on some will say - and they of course have. But we are not in Europe and we are not weighed down by Euro league fixtures. We are also the mighty Aston England (for anyone who read the Times this week) rather than any European superstars (Scandinavians count as quasi English in style). MON you are great. But Petrov - come back and prove us all wrong and gladly win all our support. But now you should have to fight your way back. Your first 15 place SHOULD have gone.
06/09/2007 20:49:00
A player can only settle in a team if he is accepted by the ring leaders. And the matter of fact is that Petrov has not been accepted for whatever reason by the likes of Barry etc. He needs to move on and find another team. He is a good player but cannot fit in Villa locker room.
06/09/2007 20:50:00
And one example. The second goal in Chelsea game when Young tried to shoot (and by mistake hit Agbonlahor) Petrov was standing completely free and open in the penalty area ready to shoot but never was considered by his team mate as an option to pass to. You cannot expect a player to do any good in such environment.
06/09/2007 20:57:00
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