How Lescott’s tweet symbolises all that is wrong with Aston Villa

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A Saint Valentine’s Day massacre saw the Villans succumb to their heaviest home defeat for eighty-one years at the hands of Liverpool. Although 0-6 was a complete demolition job, we were lucky the Reds didn’t go into overdrive and completely kill us off. With nineteen minutes still to go, after a decidedly porky looking Kolo Toure simply let the ball bounce off his head into the net for the sixth, we could easily have conceded two or three more had Liverpool not taken some mercy on us and eased off.

After a fairly resilient few weeks where we seemed to have become more organised and resolute in defence, an embarrassing drubbing was the last thing I expected heading into this game. I actually had that old emotion of looking forward to a Villa game and I doubt I was alone in feeling that the Reds were in for a long overdue defeat at Villa Park. A trifecta of conditions were cause for optimism – their generally poor recent form, coupled with having played one hundred and twenty minutes mid-week (and suffering a last minute exit to West Ham in the FA Cup), plus an important upcoming Europa League clash this week. These factors all pointed to a Liverpool side that may be easily rolled over.

As it turned out, we were the ones who were not so much easily rolled over as completely steam-rollered. The most striking thing was just how easy it was.

However, the post-match Twitter scandal may (or may not), in some way at least, go towards explaining the complete deficiency of effort on the pitch and worryingly highlights exactly what Rémi Garde means with comments about fielding only players who want to fight for the club.

A couple of hours after the defeat, Joleon Lescott tweeted a picture of an expensive sports car. While even just writing this makes it sound petty, the context of it cannot be underestimated and has provoked immense reactions. I have to admit, it’s hard to not to be wound up by it, especially by the excuse which followed.

After the initial storm came more anger, which was outweighed by the ridicule that came Lescott’s way – after an apology for the performance then came a half-baked explanation that the picture of the car was tweeted by accident caused by his phone being in his pocket whilst driving.

There is so much that is wrong with this situation that I just don’t know where to begin. To me, it is a perfect summary of all that is wrong at the club right now.

First of all, let’s be absolutely clear about all this – the defence that Lescott’s phone was in his pocket is absolutely laughable. While I can’t outright call it a lie, I will call it the most far-fetched and preposterous thing I’ve ever heard. Whilst my mother still struggles with tweeting (bless her), Lescott’s outer thigh seemingly has more technological know-how and manages it the first chance it gets, adding in a picture just for good measure. Any ridicule towards him is absolutely deserved. Frankly, the fact that he thinks he take fans for fools in such a way is deplorable.

The initial reaction must be put in context: many people (mostly fans of different clubs) were of the opinion that he can do what he wants and wondered what difference it makes if he puts up a picture of a car. However, to tweet such a thing so soon after such a heavy and humiliating loss is incredibly insensitive to the fans. There is already an overwhelming sense of the players not caring anywhere near enough and this completely epitomised it. After being walloped 0-6 at home, putting up a picture of an expensive Mercedes sports car worth thousands of pounds is absolutely beyond belief and despite how poor we have been this season, a bet with Bet Bind would have probably seen you quids in at full time.

After that game, Lescott should be feeling ashamed of himself and his performance. Sadly, it wasn’t just him – the whole team were pathetic. This isn’t an attack to single out his own performance (although it was dismal) but as fans we want to know that bad results, shambolic results in this instance, mean something to the players and affect them at least in some part. For the supporters, the evening, weekend and return to work on a Monday morning were once again laden with a gloom caused by our beloved team losing yet again. The image created by this tweet is of Lescott simply coming into the dressing room, having his shower, getting changed and popping off home for a nice relaxing Sunday evening, pondering what to spend this week’s astronomical wage on whilst oblivious to the horrendous display of football he has been a big part of.

Even if we are giving him the benefit of the doubt and accepting his excuse that his phone was rubbing so vigorously against his leg whilst shifting gears that it can open Twitter, select a picture and tweet it, then once this has been realised, take the picture off Twitter, for God’s sake! The lack of sense and understanding is truly staggering.

I have a real problem with the whole episode. To me, it is obvious he has been prompted by club officials to try to placate supporters after the initial outrage following the tweet. Nevertheless, the wording and tone of the part regarding the initial picture tweet is just so apathetic, uninterested and unapologetic: ‘I would like to add that the tweet sent out from my account involving a picture of a car was totally accidental it happened whilst driving and my phone was in my pocket.’ It’s completely ludicrous. All he needed to say was something along the lines of ‘I apologise for the tweet. I understand the insensitivity of this so soon after such a humiliating loss and will remove it immediately’. Whilst damage would still have occurred and the lack of understanding would still be a major problem and still make me feel like these players have no idea what the fans are feeling, I certainly would have respected him for fronting up honestly and trying to make amends.

As I say, I believe the tweet was prompted from people within the club looking to limit damage. The first part of his message certainly suggests so: ‘I’m not one for tweeting after games whether good, bad or indifferent…‘ You don’t say. So, of course, I have to doubt he would have tweeted had the picture of the car not been posted by him/his leg in the first place. So why do so on this occasion? He continues with ‘Liverpool are and were better than us today but that doesn’t excuse mine or the teams (sic) lack of commitment for 90 minutes.’ A lack of commitment for ninety minutes? If he admitting a lack of commitment, he should be offering more than just an apology to fans, especially the poor souls sat outside on a freezing February afternoon who had the commitment to watch hin, despite the players checking out after fifteen minutes.

The words ‘a lack of commitment’ absolutely rile me. An admission of such a thing is not acceptable in any way. The only things these players can get away with lacking is talent. Everything else should be there – fitness, endeavour, work rate, teamwork, effort, a will to never give up and, most of all, commitment.

It limply carries on ‘Again apologies to all the fans.’ There is as much passion, fight and sincerity in those words as there is on the pitch. What about the promises to fight till the end? What will be done to ensure that this doesn’t happen again? It may not be believed, and Lescott would still come in for stick, but at least there would be a sense of real recognition and some pride within it all.

All this came from a boyhood Villa fan. If we can’t get one of our own to care enough and give everything he’s got, then what chance is there of getting anyone else to? He should be leading by example, especially as a senior player. What chance have the younger, more impressionable players got with this sort of bad influence around?

We honestly don’t ask for much as fans. Commitment and effort are the least we expect – and deserve. The whole episode highlights just how far removed the modern footballer can be from the man on the terrace. The money involved in football is not the players’ fault and I’m sure you would take the thousands of pounds on offer each week should you ever be lucky enough to be offered it. However, it’s a completely sad state of affairs when the connection between a player and the fans, especially of a club he supported as a boy, grows to such an abyss that the player can’t even see it or be honest enough to admit his insensitivity to those fans once it is pointed out to him.

If Garde does stay, he has one hell of a job in ridding Aston Villa of this total stench of indifference that has swept through the club and continues to make a mockery of us on and off the pitch. It’s endemic and has seeped so far into the fabric of the club that it’s going to take a culling of mass proportion to even make a start on the infestation.

At least Lescott is motoring off the pitch.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Sundays result was a disgrace and no matter what the club , the players or the manager say will placate a large portion of fans who demand more much more from the club they follow .
    I say follow as the word support suggests that to be a fan support is durring both the good & the bad times
    But perhaps that concept is old fashioned in a society where it seems that gimmee , & I want so I must have are acceptable ,and where there must be somebody to blame if those who demand that they should have can’t get what they want . But then I was brought up to the words ” I want does not get ”

    But what of the current situation ? Garde says he is prepared to fight on and will use those players who will fight for him & the club and I think he will . Young Lydon came on late in the match & had plenty of fight in him but his introduction was too late to make much effect
    But why was things so bad , when a week ago the team looked as if it had plenty of fight . So what has changed if anything other than the opposition . To say we were steam rollered was an understatement as it looked more like the 1st day of the hunting season with Villa players as the prey who were not allowed to fight back lest they went in the refs book . But perhaps I exagerate and it was as some claim that the players just don’t care . But then again perhaps I did see a bias against our club . Certainly the 5 th goal summed it for me as with Bunn lying on the ground with a Poo player jumping over him surely that was obstruction & called for the whistle to blow before the goal scorer stole the ball ?

    But what’s done is done & we can’t turn back the clock . But what of the future ? I thought last summers buying was a gamble at doing the impossible of building a new squad whilest staying in the Prem . But then to hang an Albatros around the manager’s neck in the shape of Wilken was ridiculous & whoever thought that up wants shooting never mind the sack
    Maybe it was a ruse to get rid of Sherwood & bring in Garde but I doubt the truth will come out
    But what of the future . What’s done is done . But what is certain is that wrecking the club to spite Lerner & the Board is like “cutting off your nose to spite your face”

    But what of Garde’s claim that he will find players who will fight for the club . To me that suggests using the youngsters & possibly even recalling some of the U21’s from loan . But will that do any good ? That we will have to wait & see but perhaps it will prepare the squad for next season even if this is a total washout

  2. Alex stop bitching like a woman. I don’t know what’s worse, the 6 nil defeat or all the sh*tty pundits and bloggers going on and on and on like teams at the bottom never lose heavily and capitulate due to confidence being battered out of them.

    It’s one game, Lescott and co had a bad day at the office. These players need picking up now, they dont need their home fans slaughtering them at every opportunity. Lescott, who has recently scored twice resulting in 6 points, has apologised so ff sake let’s move on and get behind them as Stoke away is a tough ask and if we are to survive they dont need us on their backs.

    Deal with the pain, humiliation and move on!

    • Couldn’t disagree more Davey. Sorry you see it as ‘bitching’ but for a start, Lescott hasn’t scored twice, both were own goals, but much more importantly he shouldn’t be giving people the opportunity to slaughter him, especially off the field. I’m all for supporting the players, absolutely. But the players have a massive duty to the club and especially the fans and when they display complete apathy in their effort and actions, then that will of course provoke the reaction that is has done. The fact is, it isn’t just one game as you say; poor effort and attitude, not just from Lescott, is the reason we’re 8 points adrift and going to be relegated. It’s a massive problem and this episode just epitomised everything that’s wrong.

  3. I think we are finally starting to get a glimpse of these “deep rooted problems” that are going on at Villa behind the scenes. Many have spoke of them, Tim Sherwood for example said that the club “was in a hole”, it is becoming apparent that he meant far more than just poor results and a few bad decisions at board level. The culture at the club is rotten from top to bottom, and the stench is permeating throughout the dressing rooms. Lescott’s arrogance through his initial tweet, and staggering contempt for the fans with his follow up “apology” may just be the tip of the iceberg.

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