Skipper won’t Stew over future

Villa skipper Petrov hopes that Villa can retain the services of

Downing and bids of £12million and £15million from

Liverpool have already been rejected. But the Bulgaria

international has faith in McLeish to ensure Villa remain

competitive in the Premier League, even if Downing follows Ashley

Young out of the door. He said: “We’d love to keep Stewart. He was

exceptional last season and is a great talent. “That’s why he was

voted the fans’ player of the year and players’ player of the year

and he deserved both awards. He works really hard and, like I said,

he’s an exceptional talent. “But the chairman (Randy Lerner) is the

man who knows what is right and wrong for the club and he will

always do what is right for the club and so will the manager.”

Petrov added: “Ashley Young has moved on, so have Gareth Barry and

James Milner in recent seasons but as a club we will keep fighting.

“That’s why the chairman brought in a manager with a fighting

spirit. “He will make sure we have a strong, competitive team that

will be able to compete against other big teams in the Premier

League. That’s why he’s been appointed. “It’s not nice to see good

players go but that’s the way football goes. “We’re not going to

stop fighting, we’re professionals and we’re going to try to win as

many games as we can to climb the table as high as we can.” Petrov

believes McLeish is the right man to revive the club’s fortunes but

pleaded for him to be given time to make his mark. McLeish met the

Villa players en bloc for the first time on Friday when they

reported back for pre-season training. Petrov knows all about his

new boss from when he was playing for Celtic and McLeish was is

charge of Old Firm rivals Rangers, and has no doubt about his

quality. He said: “I met the new manager a few days ago but I know

him from before also and I’m really glad we have someone like him

in charge of our team. “He’s a man who is a bad loser, he likes to

win and he likes to be on top of everybody. I think we need a man

like this. “The chairman is aware of his ability and what he can do

and I think he’s the right choice of person to lead this club. “He

needs to be given time. Everyone deserves time and he’ll prove to

be the right man for this job, no question. He’s got that will to

win.”