Aston Villa’s relegation from the Premier League was confirmed this weekend and with it comes the end of twenty-eight years in the top flight of English football. However, there was one Villa player who found some welcome relief within this and declared a weight being lifted from the shoulders of him and supposedly the rest of the team. That player was Joleon Lescott.
The situation that Villa find themselves in is no surprise to anybody, an absolutely abysmal season on the pitch has delivered just three wins all season up to this point and two managerial departures to punctuate this. The establishment of the inevitable within the club happened long ago and this was highlighted by the many rats that had dragged them into the sewer of relegation, quickly extracting themselves from the proverbial sinking ship – former chief executive Tom Fox and former sporting director Hendrik Almstadt being two of those rodents.
The problems haven’t limited themselves to the pitch or the boardroom. Jack Grealish found himself on the wrong side of Villa’s second manager this season – Remi Garde -quicker than he could say “two pints please”. The player was left out of the squad back in December following a boozy night out. The more experienced Gabriel Agbonlahor was next in line for a suspension. Following a mid-season get-away to Dubai where he was pictured allegedly smoking a shisha pipe and consuming alcohol, his justification of the incident was that the season in which he has barely featured in had been a tough one and everyone is entitled to a break.
If it’s sympathy he was looking for I don’t think there would be much forthcoming from anyone who works forty, fifty or sixty hours a week just to survive or Aston Villa fans that have to pay the money to sit there and watch the biggest congregation of wasters since Benefit Street. Yes, football players are humans and deserve to live their life as they choose but to rub salt in an already highly infected wound is deplorable and an illustration of the utter contempt they view the position they are in. Its easy to single out individuals because they were foolish enough but in truth, its clearly rife within the current playing squad.
Step forward Joleon Lescott, after the final blow was dealt and relegation was confirmed, surely all Villa fans were looking to an experienced player to offer an apologetic, contrite summary of whats happened and why its happened this season. What they got was the complete opposite. During a post-match interview, Lescott stated, “Now its confirmed maybe its a weight off our shoulders.” Confirmation of the arrogance and contempt was now in bold and underlined. As Stan Collymore on Twitter rightly pointed out after the dust was settling, the weight of relegation should be well and truly weighing Lescott down. The fact that there are tens of jobs in jeopardy, many thousands of fans out of pocket and out of hope, no manager and no guarantee of a quick return to the top flight doesn’t seem to bother the multi-millionaire in the autumn of his career.
Many managerial names have been touted for the not so hot seat at Villa park, Moyes, Pearson and Bruce to name a few following the departure of scapegoat two Remi Garde. Whoever it is that is chosen by the new look boardroom will have quite a to-do-list, top of that list will be tracking down the ever not so present owner Randy Lerner, his intentions with the club are critical, so far its been a simple blueprint – sell all the best players and hide. A mass clear out of playing staff will be high on the agenda also, nothing too far short of a blank canvas is required for a long forty-six game championship season. Youth at the club step forward, old and rotten deadwood (Lescott and friends) jump in your new car – your underwhelming talent and commitment won’t be needed.
The post-mortem will continue and Aston Villa fans can only hope and put their trust once again in the people that are supposed to care about the club. Randy Lerner will do well to understand that he does not own the club, the fans do and they deserve more than poorly informed, ignorant executives and players looking to cash in on his hidden bucks. If there really is going to be a new look rudder to the good ship Villa then they stand a chance of making this a blip in their rich history. Alternatively, if the same mistakes have been made and there are more wolves in sheeps’ clothing at the helm, then the future looks bleak for a club once crowned the best in European football.