BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: Joey Barton of Newcastle United and Stiliyan Petrov of Aston Villa battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park on April 10, 2011 Birmingham, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
The non-story broke today that Aston Villa captain and Bulgaria international Stiliyan Petrov would jump at the chance to "swap with any Liverpool player" because it's his boyhood team and he's always wanted to play for them. Cue Villa fan outrage.
Why is this a big deal? Well, it's really not a big deal at all. It's impossible to fault a person for growing up supporting a club long before he ever signed a contract to play for Aston Villa. Almost every athlete in the world that makes it to the professional ranks of his or her given sport ends up playing for a team other than the one they loved as a child. To hold Stan's feet to the fire over this would be silly.
Let's also, then, acknowledge that this is a touchy time for Aston Villa the club and for the Aston Villa fans. Things have been...we'll just go ahead and say they've been shitty so far this season. The cries for Alex McLeish's resignation/sacking/feeding to a Burmese python grow louder by the day. It is hard to argue that this is a well timed comment from Petrov. It was made to a magazine so for all we know he said this months ago and the article was simply chosen to run today.
Personally speaking, I wasn't that upset when Gerard Houllier said nice things about Liverpool last season because he spent many of his best years there. Who can blame him? This comment from Stan, while irritating because of the timing, is almost completely innocuous and hopefully we can all move on. That means no bed sheets inscribed with black marker that read PETROV OUT, ok?