Sunday, 17 April 2016
Aston Villa Fans Fury Over Joleon Lescott’s ‘Relegation A Relief’ Comment
Joleon Lescott has provoked yet more anger from Aston Villa fans after describing their relegation from the Premier League as a relief – calling it “a weight off the shoulders” for the players.
Villa’s fate was finally confirmed by their ninth successive defeat, 1-0 at Manchester United, in a game marked by more fan protests against the team and the board. When the caretaker manager, Eric Black, urged the Villa players to acknowledge the travelling supporters at the end, only a handful did so.
Lescott – who has been at the centre of several of the club’s most awkward off-field headlines this season – then caused another online backlash with comments he made after the final whistle.
“We knew before the game what we had to do but coming to Old Trafford is never easy, no matter what situation you’re in,” he told the BBC. “We showed a level of pride that there’s probably not been enough of throughout the season.
“It’s about results so regardless of how we played in patches today we are relegated … But now it’s confirmed maybe it’s a weight off the shoulders and we can give these fans what they deserve, some performances.
“Throughout the season we have given reasons for people to jump on us. It’s part of football, we have to take that on the chin. It’s a tough time at the minute. But at the back of our minds is next season to get promoted. I’m here for as long as Aston Villa want me.”
During the match Villa fans had chanted “Joleon Lescott: he’s got a new car” – a reference to one of the moments that seemed to sum up the fractured relationship between supporters and players this season. Lescott had claimed in February that a tweet he sent in the wake of Villa’s humiliating 6-0 defeat by Liverpool, which contained just a picture of a £125,000 sports car – was sent in error while the phone was in his pocket. He apologised both for the tweet and for what he called “mine and the team’s lack of commitment for the 90 minutes”.
That came a month after Lescott and the goalkeeper Brad Guzan had clashed verbally with their own fans during a 1-1 FA Cup third round draw at Wycombe.
Addressing the media at Old Trafford, Black tried to build bridges – but with the club captain, Gabby Agbonlahor, again dropped, this time accused of “not training properly”, he admitted repairing the damage would take time.
“I am humbled by our support. We had 32,000 at our last game even though they have seen us win at home about 18 times in the last four years.
“ All I have tried to do in the short time I have been at the club is take small steps forward to offer the supporters some encouragement.
“I understand that there is a disconnect between the team and the fans at the moment and that’s what we need to work on, because supporters don’t want to be attacking their team. It is a massive transformation you have to make.
“You will need to move some players on and find you are unable to, and you will lose some of the players you want to keep. The rebuild has to start right now.”
Villa were beaten by a single goal, the impressive Marcus Rashford taking his tally for the season to seven, though Louis van Gaal, like most of the home supporters, was underwhelmed by another pallid United display.
“I was surprised we could not lift ourselves, we played at too slow a tempo again,” he said. “I understand we have to provide more entertainment.”
Culled from the Guardian