One number's conspicuous absence from the squad list

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If you look at Aston Villa's recently released squad numbers, you'll see one that is conspicuously absent.

Aston Villa today announced their squad numbers for the upcoming 2013-14 season. Andrew pointed out that one number was wisely unassigned: 19. As a sign of respect for Stiliyan Petrov the club has temporarily retired the number for the 2013-14 season. It's a wonderful gesture and, when coupled with the apparent continuance of 19th minute applause from fans at the preseason friendlies, goes a long ways to show just how important Stan is to the club and its fans. But we already knew that.

While this is a nice move by Villa, I'd like to see them take it a little further. What's the harm in retiring the number entirely? You could make the argument that Petrov wasn't with the club for any major achievements, nor were his career numbers all that great. As I've argued in the article I linked above, though, Petrov's importance far exceeds his contribution on the field. It's readily obvious how important the connection between player and community is, and that's something that should be honored. There are plenty of other numbers, so why not set one aside to say thanks to a man who gave so much to the club?

Elsewhere in Petrov news, the Bulgarian has joined twitter today. If you'd like to follow him, the account is right here. I saw some irritation among fans that he had chosen a picture of himself in a Celtic uniform rather than a Villa one. If that's the sort of thing that really gets your goat, though, I think you've got bigger problems than a former footballer's avatar. I imagine the people who worry what Stan's avatar is are the same people who say they'd rather beat WBA than make the Champions League. Also, it's worth noting that he may just be influenced by his surroundings, as Stan spent the week watching his former club in Champions League qualifying.

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