Aston Villa Club Focus – Petrov encouraged to go forth and prosper

The main talking point of Aston Villa’s draw with Sunderland was captain Stiliyan Petrov’s piledriver. Petrov’s rocket shot, along with Richard Dunne’s header, gave Villa a point away at the Stadium of Light.

Petrov has been hailed by Villa boss Alex McLeish for his inspiring performances so far this season and McLeish believes his skipper has the ability to go forward and score more and more goals for Villa. During his time at in the Midlands, Petrov has been deployed in a deeper lying midfield role whilst the wealth of attacking talent at Villa Park go forward in search for goals.

The introduction of Chris Herd as a defensive-minded midfield player against Sunderland allowed Petrov a free role and the Bulgarian did not disappoint. McLeish is prepared to use that combination more often and allow Petrov to show the accuracy of his shooting in future.

McLeish said: “It was a tremendous goal from Stiliyan. When he played in Scotland for Celtic, he scored a lot of goals in Europe and the SPL. He was an attacking midfielder. Since he came to England, he’s been used in a different way. If we can get him in those positions more often, we could see more of those goals.

Petrov himself hailed the contribution of Herd as part of the reason why he scored the goal on Saturday. The Bulgarian midfielder believes that with Herd taking over Petrov’s role as anchorman in the heart of the midfield, Petrov can go forward and score more goals.

In previous seasons I have been the one who has been sitting deeper and looking after everyone but now it’s Chris. He’s given me more help. He’s taken over my position and given me more chance to go forward. I think the balance is good. It’s working well,” Petrov said.

A pep talk from striker Emile Heskey inspired Petrov to score his goal. The Bulgarian captain revealed that Heskey told him to do something special and Petrov obliged. Heskey himself was involved in a clash with Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, which left Mignolet with a broken nose. Heskey courteously went and checked if the French goalkeeper was okay at the end.

Striker Darren Bent was subjected to a barrage of abuse at the weekend from the Sunderland fans who used to cheer him. The £24m record Villa signing missed a golden opportunity to silence his Wearside critics and looked despondent following the miss. Villa captain Petrov and Villa boss McLeish have both rallied around Bent and Petrov stated that the England striker was hurt by the abuse thrown his way.

Petrov said: “He was surprised how loud the boos were but he has proved himself over the years and he will keep scoring goals and we are glad to have him. When you have a good time at a club and you come back to face a reception like that it is really painful. The fans were on his back and booing him, but he is a strong boy mentally and he handled it very well.

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