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Petrov Must be Patient Due to Increased Competition

Gerard Houllier has warned club captain Stiliyan Petrov, that owning the armband does not mean that he mustn’t fight for his place in the first team. Having signed Jean Makoun and Michael Bradley in the summer and come under pressure after being overshadowed on the main by Reo-Coker this season, not to mention the emergence of young players such as Bannan and Delph, the 31-year-old is likely to see his usual regular spot in the Villa XI come under threat. Reports suggested that Turkish champions Galatasaray made a move for the Bulgarian in January which was rebuffed, but are preparing a renewed bid of around £2m this summer. If the speculated interest and fee is accurate I would suggest that it might be time up at Villa Park for the ex-Celtic man. The general consensus I have heard from most Villa fans is that the skipper is on the decline and I would have to agree. Losing a yard of pace when you never really had it in the first place is pretty fatal in a league where physical attributes are increasingly important. Petrov was dropped last time out against Blackpool after playing in midweek with his country and resting the experienced pro seems an option that his manager is more than willing to take. Houllier told the Birmingham Mail;

“Petrov is in my plans, but if he says ‘I want to play every game’, I’ll say ‘No’.

“He’s the captain so he must lead by example. I’m very pleased with his attitude.

“He’s been influential in me changing the philosophy that we have here. He’s still got a lot to give.

“You can play only 11 players at one time, but it is the squad and the unity of the squad that makes you win, not just 11 players.

“The players and the fans have to accept now that it is a squad – simple as that.

“When there’s no competition the teams go down. If you don’t accept competition you don’t do this job.”

If this is to be the midfielder’s last season, Villa fans should appreciate a man who has been superbly dedicated to the club in recent years and an excellent servant, integral to the progress made under Martin O’Neill. This season has been far from his best with Stiliyan seeming to struggle at times to keep up with the frantic nature of the league, but he is always a willing and committed member of the squad and a fantastic captain on and off the field. Do you think it should be Petrov’s last season or does he have more to offer? His future may well also lay in the hands of Nigel Reo-Coker who is yet to agree a new deal at the club, but do the signings of Makoun and Bradley, albeit on loan, signal that Houllier is looking elsewhere and, more importantly, to the future

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