Welcome Back Stan!
By David Michael
First off, a huge welcome back to Mr Stan Petrov! As you would have probably read, Petrov has taken up a new role as assistant to development coach Gordon Cowans. More than just a nice gesture on Paul Lambert and the club’s part, it’s also a great footballing decision.
Going back to a conversation I had with a Liverpool-supporting friend, when news of Petrov’s illness first broke, which I mentioned on here over a year ago. He recalled hearing on BBC Radio Five, veteran commentator Pat Murphy and ex-player Pat Nevin confessing they would sometimes spend their down time in the media room at football games picking various ‘Footballing 11′s’. The kind of game fans play down pubs, where you pick 11′s, such as: ‘Bearded players 11′, ‘Alice Bands 11′, ‘Italians that played in England 11′, Horrible Person 11′, ‘Genuine nice guys 11′ etc.
While the two Pats wouldn’t name and shame their ‘Horrible Person 11′ on air, for obvious reasons, when it came to the ‘Genuinely Good Guys 11′, Pat Murphy (who has spent decades in the game meeting players) said, “Stiliyan Petrov would be the captain of the ‘Nice Guys 11′ every time”.
Genuine nice guys, increasingly, are in short supply in the game, so to have one of the best still within the Villa family is an honour.
With Stan’s personality and also his life experience of the past year, there will be no better man to help Cowans nurture and keep a check on the kids coming through the Villa ranks. Nowadays most young players are teenagers with Rolex watches, already driving fast cars, but this swag doesn’t create proper winning footballers. In the long-term, it will help feed Lambert’s first team squad with the hard-working, disciplined and talented young professionals he favours.
Increasingly, the game is about the mental development of players. Just look at Manchester City’s team. Man for man, they should have walked the title this season, but their heads aren’t screwed on properly.
I’ve written many times about Lambert’s long-term old school approach and how it is Villa’s best shot of glory again. Petrov working with the youth team is a useful part of that jigsaw.
Petrov is also figure that also demands respect for his achievements, both north and south of the border with Celtic and Villa. Plus, when you have 106 international caps to your name, it would be a shame to squander such a wealth of experience.
As Petrov said himself to the club’s website:
“My hope is that I can assist Gordon through my own experience in the game and that I can help the young lads to progress, become better players and better human beings.
“There are important values that we have always stood for at the club and we will continue to do so.”
Stan will begin studying for his coaching badges in the summer. We wish him well and look forward to seeing him at Villa Park for many seasons to come. UTV