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Stiliyan Petrov and Shaun Goater Exclusive

Stiliyan Petrov and Shaun Goater Exclusive

With the League Cup Final taking place this weekend between Manchester City and Aston Villa, Genting Casino have drafted in two former stars from the respective teams in Stiliyan Petrov and Shaun Goater to chat all things Aston Villa and Manchester City. The duo have also previewed all the Premier League action which you can watch by clicking on the link below and heading over to the Genting Casino blog.









Stiliyan Petrov


Dean Smith said that a number of the players had played their way out of Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final, after the defeat at Southampton. Will the manager’s comments give the players the push they need to deliver in the final?

Dean Smith’s reaction following the Southampton defeat was very interesting. Sometimes the manager will use that to challenge players, to see the reaction of the players, how it affects them in training leading up to the game, and to see if they would have a positive reaction. I think with Villa at the moment, these comments are really dangerous because they’re fragile. They haven’t won many games and they haven’t put in many good performances. So, I think in today’s football, you have to be more careful and you have to be able to deal with things internally when going out and challenging players.

How many players in this team do you think you can react to Smith’s comments? Maybe two or three players. Pepe Reina, maybe. Jack Grealish. Tyrone Mings. Because these are the players that have been there, they’ve taken the hit before, and they know this is a challenge for them. But the others don’t have enough experience. Is that the right comments, is it going to motivate them? We can only see, but I’m not sure about it.


Villa were battered 6-1 by City in the league. Could you see that happening again in the final? 

Man City were outstanding in the Premier League game when they won 6-1 against Aston Villa but I don’t think you can compare a league game with the final. The preparation is completely different. People say, “Oh, it’s a game, it should be the same”, but it’s completely different. The build-up, the environment, the buzz around a Cup Final is completely different. I think it will be a difficult game and Villa have to be at their best. If they are not at their best, it will be a long, long afternoon for them.


Can a win in the Carabao Cup Final be the ultimate team building exercise – as in, help Villa start getting results in the Premier League?

The Carabao Cup and the Premier League are two different competition. At Villa, the coaching staff, people on the Board, and the players know that they have been under-performing. For them to build up something is about getting results. Is it going to be a win in the Cup Final? Or is it going to be a win in the next Premier League game? They just have to get results, and that’s the main thing for them.


Villa have won just two of their past 32 Premier League away games. Why is it that Villa are struggling so much away from home?

Aston Villa’s struggles away from home have been down to performances and conceding goals. When you concede goals, you’re not able to give yourself a chance to stay in the game for as long as possible, it’s very difficult, and they haven’t scored many either. So, I think the balance between the two is more negative than positive, and I think that has cost them a lot of results in away games.


How big of a signing do you think Pepe Reina will turn out to be?

You just have to look at Pepe Reina’s CV and you can see what he’s done and how important he is. He’s a great signing and I think he’s got enough experience. I don’t think he’s got enough experience of this kind of pressure, being down at the bottom as he’s always played for teams that haven’t had many shots against him. At the moment he’s probably having treble the amount of shots against him than he is used to. So, I think it’s a different experience, but with his experience in the dressing room, calming players down, talking through the game with the players, he gives them a little bit assurance at the back. His role will be vital for Villa to survive.


Can Villa keep hold of Grealish in the summer? Even if they stay up in the Premier League?

Aston Villa won’t be able to hold on to Jack Grealish in the summer. I know people will be angry about it, but he’s a special talent. Have the club done enough to keep him? I don’t think so. Would it make a difference if the club stay up or down? I don’t think so. When you have a special talent, who can play in the top level, big clubs will come for them. And Grealish will have to make that decision. If you’re a top player who wants to progress and wants to win titles because you’ve got that ability, at the end of the day you have to move on. I don’t think Villa will have a chance to keep him from moving.

I think he’s done his time. He’s stuck with the team. In the Championship, he got them a promotion. He’s fighting for them, and probably his performances until the end of the season will decide if they’re going to stay up. So, I don’t think Villa can keep hold of him.


There have been rumours of Dean Smith and John Terry having a bust-up? It was denied straight away but do you think all is well in the management stakes there?

I haven’t been on the management side, but looking into it nobody likes to lose a game, which is something that Villa and Dean Smith have done quite a lot this season, so, I think it’s normal for a manager to be frustrated like Smith was after the Southampton game. When the team don’t put a performance, as a manager you have that fear that there are now less games left, and you have to battle, you have to fight till the end.

The rumoured bust-up between Dean Smith and John Terry? I don’t think so. First of all, I think JT knows well enough what is the manager’s roles. If you were to tell me that John Terry will have a bust-up with the players, I’ll say yeah, but having that against the manager? I wouldn’t think so. I think it’s probably made up. It was probably more of saying a few words than just fighting, it’s completely different. And that’s your staff. You don’t want them to agree with everything, you want them to go and challenge you and make sure that they’re on top of you. If something is not right, they’re there, and they’ll tell you. But a fight? I wouldn’t think so.


Will Aston Villa stay up this season or not?

Aston Villa will stay up this season. They have to. I don’t think, as a former player, or as a fan at the moment, we can go another season at the Championship, it was dreadful. I hope they stay up and I think they will. It’s not about the ability; it’s about their fight and desire to stay. This is what is the most important for them.



Shaun Goater


After a fairly turbulent season, is the Carabao Cup an important game for Manchester City? 

The Carabao Cup is important for Man City. If City were not to win this game, it would be a big cloud over City. Of all the stuff that’s going on, and to get to the final against Villa, who are not having the greatest of seasons, and then to not win that game? It would be hugely disappointing if City were not to win this.


Do you expect City to blast Villa out of the water like people are predicting, or do you think it’ll be a harder-fought game than that?

I think the final will be a hard-fought game. And sometimes, football’s funny. It could be very tight to the last 15 minutes, and then all of a sudden, you get two goals, and you think, oh, it ended up being 4-1, and you think, but it wasn’t a 4-1 for 80 minutes!

I think Villa will show up, and I think because it’s a Cup Final, you get players that have got an extra 5%, 10%, in terms of their energy, but also in their performance, their intelligence, everything just goes up, and you think, well, these players are really putting in the effort, and they’re really making it difficult. So, I think it will be a close game. I think it could be a late goal or two that will end up being 3-1 or 4-1, but I think for the most part, it’s going to be a close game.


Are there any vulnerabilities from Manchester City that Villa can attack? What can Dean Smith say to his players to help them get a win?

For Aston Villa to win, they’ve got to have total belief, and stay in the game. Football games are funny; sometimes you get a foul, you get a physical challenge that gets the crowd in the game, it gets a player up who rallies other players. It could be one or two set pieces back to back, and then all of a sudden, there’s the roar of the Villa fans that’s galvanising your players. So, when you’re in a final, on paper it seems like City should walk this game, walk away, 3-1, 3-nil, but it’s a final. I don’t recall too many finals where you go, “Yeah, that was comfortable.” It may have been [comfortable] in the last 10 or 15 minutes, but I think essentially, it’s going to be tight.


Before the Kevin De Bruyne penalty against Real Madrid, City hadn’t scored any of their last four penalties. Who takes a penalty? If it goes to penalties, will Villa win?

If the game was heading towards penalties then it will be a concern, and I think we may see actions taken from Man City that we’ve got to go bust for it. City don’t want to go into penalties, because there’ll be a belief amongst City fans that’ll be, oh, we don’t want penalties. When we start getting around 75, 80 minutes, City will be thinking that they don’t to be going there. So, Pep will be wanting to win the game within normal time. City will be practising but again, Jesus has taken penalties, Aguero’s taken penalties, Sterling’s taken penalties. You can practise, but it doesn’t prepare you for the day.


Has the criticism of Man City’s been harsh this season, or justified, given where they are?

I think the criticism of Man City is justified because of their own standards. City were so high in terms of where they were, and the standards they set, and the football they were playing. If I remember correctly, the number of goals that City have conceded is way above what they were conceding last season. So, they’re miles away from their own targets, and then you’ve got the situation of Liverpool, where Liverpool’s just taken it on another level up to now. So, yes, you can say that the criticism is warranted.


If the European Ban is enforced, will Man City fall behind and will Pep Guardiola be satisfied with that?

Pep Guardiola has come out and said if the club had even gone down to the second division, he’ll be staying there. So, I think this has just given the club an opportunity to say, it’s us against the world, and really galvanise that team spirit to come out and fight for everything. The club’s going to challenge it. I think we will see the colours of the players. Are their hearts really for the club or do their heads turn for another top European club that’s got Champion’s League football? I’d like to think the players know that the project that City is still in its early days. And a lot can be achieved. So, I’d like to think the players will want to be staying, because again, Pep Guardiola as a manager has come and evolved the game, and to have him at the helm is still a big coup for the players.


Do you see Man City progressing past Real Madrid?

I do see Man City progressing past Real Madrid. Hazard is a player that’s injured and I think he’s a vital player for Madrid. But even with Hazard not being out, when I think of Pep Guardiola when he manages, and I know City’s not been playing at their best level, he plays a tactical game that eliminates the quality of the opposition. I mean, I’ve seen him manage against Barcelona and really try to press Barcelona so they can play long, and leave one on one at the back with Messi, and you think, wow, how brave. Barcelona ended up winning the game but this is how he manages, so I see no different, and this will be his way.


Raheem Sterling started off the season so well but now his form has dipped. Do you see him joining Real Madrid or will he stay at Man City?

I see Raheem Sterling staying at City. There’s the statement that he’s come out with but I think it’s a neutral statement and a respectful statement, but it’s also one of those that he could have totally squashed by saying, “I’m flattered by Real Madrid, but I’m very happy at City, certainly for the next couple of years”. Then everyone knows that despite the European Ban situation, if it happens, then Sterling’s still committed for the next couple of years. But he’s left it slightly grey. However, I still think he’s committed and will stay at the club.


Who’s impressed you this season that you think is the player that Man City need to build the team around for the next three, four years?

City have so much quality but I’d really like to see Phil Foden get a lot more minutes. I really do think he’s ready, I think he has the ability. I understand the reasoning that he’s not playing, he’s challenging with David Silva, Bernardo Silva. I also like to think that him having a run of games, of 20 games, I think his level of production will be on the same level, if not higher, as well. But he needs to be given that belief that he’s the main guy, that is going to be playing week-in, week-out, and I think we’ll see that from him. I think his time is around the corner.










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