Writer: Mike Field
Date:Thursday May 1 2008
Martin O'Neill has spoken out and expressed his delight at the resurgence of Stiliyan Petrov's form.
Petrov has consistently failed to perform since signing in 2006, and although we had seen momentary flashes it has only really been the last few weeks that Petrov found his form, played consistently and started to be an asset in midfield.
O'Neill is probably more thankful than anything else, not only was Petrov's form casting doubts over his ability to be a Premiership player, for some it was an indication of MON's judgment given the friendship shared between the two.
Speaking on the official site, the manager said:
'He's been a revelation in the last few weeks and you can actually see his confidence returning. He's now doing things in games and in training that I knew he was capable of.
'I'm particularly pleased for him because he's had to win people over. He's had to battle through. At Celtic it was much easier - not easier to play in the games - but easier in the sense that he was still the young and up and coming lad in the side. He never really lost that tag.
'Here he's come in as a mature player trying to play in the Premier League, trying to win people over. That's taken time and I'm pleased for him.
'He can strive on from this and when he's in the sort of form and the mood we've seen in recent weeks he can spark the players around him. That spring in his step can be infectious.'
O'Neill suggests that Petrov's debut made things worse for him. He started so brightly against Wet Spam, that people expected even more from him before he had settled in.
'If you look at when he arrived, he was the first signing of a new era and expectations were high.
'He had a terrific debut at West Ham which only raised those expectations even higher. He would have almost been better sneaking in through the back door and just getting on with it.
'We didn't make a load of signings. I know that Didier Agathe came down and obviously Chris Sutton came, but both arrived after the deadline.
'But Stiliyan was the only signing, so I don't know whether that put him under more pressure to perform or ever try to doubly perform.
'I think there was a lot of settling down for him but I'm really pleased for him. It would have been a shame for him to have disappeared without the crowd knowing what he was capable of doing.'
If Petrov keeps showing the sort of form we have seen, I think fans will be inclined to forget the past. There's no doubt about it, an on form Petrov is an asset.
We just need to keep seeing the on form Petrov.
Date:Thursday May 1 2008
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