Cap'y may have returned from injury, but Stiliyan Petrov does not get an automatic pass back to the center of the pitch. Which is a relief to many Villa fans, who've felt that Petrov hasn't exactly been a rock this season. In fact, he's looked freshest when coming back from a long rest, or when coming off the bench. If Gerard Houllier has the guts to not start his captain week in, week out then good for him.
Of course, in Football Manager this would result in the player whinging about how poorly he's being treated and how the manager has no respect for him, but I guess in real life the players try to be a bit more mature about these things. It seems clear that Houllier's moving to a more rotational system, which is obviously needed considering the Villa is not in Europe and has just an FA Cup tie left to play.
No, no, I remember last season. I remember the tiredness that was plaguing the team by March. I understand the need to have fresh legs available. And so does Houllier:
"You couldn’t play midfield and neither could I so I had to take some players. I don’t want to be caught out again. I hope everybody understands that."
A pretty big assumption there, stating that Mat Kendrick couldn't play midfield, but the point is that the squad has been enlarged and there are now about ten people that could start in the center. But this could just be Houllier being, um, slightly paranoid. Yeah, there was a time when Petrov and Nigel Reo-Coker both weren't available. Now Jean Makoun is now out for three matches. But there's still a plethora of players to take just two positions, and to keep them all around, but on the bench, simply because Houllier is scared is rather selfish.
Then again, if injurypocalpse hits again and Villa emerge with just two midfielders, I will likely post a retraction and kiss Houllier's feet. Until then, if I don't see Barry Bannan at least on the bench, I will continue to question whether the mad Frenchman really knows what's best for young player development.