Joleon Lescott arrived at Villa Park on the last day of last summer’s transfer window. He was, he claimed, one of us. Hollow words or so they seem to me right now.
For a while it seemed he was. He’d played well at Albion, well enough to be considered on the verge of an England call-up. That’s not saying much judging by the way the shambles of this summer turned out.
And shambles is a word which fits Lescott like a glove.
Tweeting a picture of a new car, at the best of times, is not a good idea for footballers. It reinforces the message that you earn too much when the car in question would cost the average man a decade to buy – and that’s if he spent his money on nothing else.
To claim it was accidental just treats us with contempt.
You could forgive infrequent acts of stupidity; we’ve all sent messages we wished we hadn’t on social media. No-one’s perfect but in the combustible mix of last season, Lescott knew he would have to work hard for forgiveness.
The problem is that he didn’t. Instead, he reminded us that there was a third law of broadcasting: Never work with animals; never work with children, and, never work with footballers. I suspect his shisha pipe had something strong in it when he said: “Now it’s confirmed, maybe it’s a weight off the shoulders and we can give these fans what deserve, some performances.”
So we didn’t deserve them beforehand?
We all understand the stress the players were under; we were in the same boat except we were powerless to act. We couldn’t change anything on the pitch; that was down to them.
Villa were a rudderless ship last season, with hapless management from the top downwards. It’s no wonder the players were so devoid of inspiration but that wasn’t down to us. Their lethargy led to our apathy toward them.
Lescott polarises opinions. Some remember the promising defender at Everton who blossomed for a short while at Manchester City. Trading on reputations is all well and good but leaving there for Albion suggested a plateau was reached and he plummeted last season to new lows.
Stupidity is a poisonous commodity in a footballer’s career. Lose the goodwill of the terraces and an uncomfortable time lies ahead. A departure always feels inevitable in those circumstances. I find myself wondering if it’s not for the best anyway.
Signing Tommy Elphick from Bournemouth sends a clear message to the defence: Roberto Di Matteo is in the mood to work hard at fixing last season’s faults. Is Lescott?
I was going to ask ‘do I want him to’ and realised it’s a daft question. Loaded, even. I’ve banged on about how poor his attitude was last season but now, with fight needing to be shown, of course I want him to work hard.
He can work hard on the training pitch and work hard at convincing another club to bid for him.