Oh Joleon, Joleon, Joleon, what will we do with you?
If you missed the Premier League action at the weekend then you might not be aware of the fact that Aston Villa were finally put out of their misery and relegated to the Championship after losing to Manchester United.
Of course, Villa have been doomed for months, and it was absolutely no surprise to see them go down, but nevertheless, the way that central defender Joleon Lescott chose to react to the relegation was, at best, misguided.
The former West Brom and Wolves man was interviewed following the relegation confirmation, and said, “Now it’s confirmed maybe it’s a weight off the shoulders and we can give these fans what they deserve – some performances.”
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) April 17, 2016
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Lescott was trying to be inflammatory or insulting with his comments, but what he has done is show a spectacularly poor level of awareness about what Villa fans really want.
To put Villa’s relegation in context, they’re one of only a handful of clubs to have been in the top flight since the Premier League was formed in 1992. In fact, they’ve been in the top division in England since 1987, and they’re a club with a rich pedigree, a big stadium and a loyal fanbase.
With this considered, let’s examine the club captain’s comments. He has – more or less – suggested that it is a good thing that survival is a mathematical impossibility. He has suggested that there is a positive to come out of the fact that they have been relegated after a truly dreadful season. He has suggested that Villa fans want to see “performances”, and they are less concerned about relegation.
Lescott clearly meant no malice with these comments, but their unthinking nature will have gone down extremely poorly with the Villa fans – especially in the wake of the unfortunate episode where the defender tweeted a picture of a £121,000 Mercedes after a 6-0 loss to Liverpool, claiming afterwards that he had done it by accident.
He has unquestionably rubbed many up the wrong way.
Ex-Villa player and prominent pundit Stan Collymore revealed a private message he received from Lescott, Villa legend Paul McGrath has subsequently dubbed Lescott a ‘slime bag’ who only joined the club for the money, while an article on Metro.co.uk said he deserves to be the most hated Villa player of all time.
— The Sun Football (@TheSunFootball) April 17, 2016
Whatever Villa do over the next few weeks, it must be the job of Lescott and others to try and give the fans something back, to get them back on side. Because right now, the relationship between the fans and the club is at its lowest ebb; and given that they lived through the reign of Alex McLeish, that’s definitely saying something.