As featured on Pundit Arena on Saturday, April 16th 2016
Today, Aston Villa were finally condemned to the Championship. It has seemed inevitable for some time now, but given that the club is one of England’s oldest and most successful, you would have thought that pride would have inspired more than the insipid opposition that they provided throughout the campaign.
However, whether it has been on or off the field, the playing staff of Aston Villa have continuously let down their faithful support. Club captain Gabriel Agbonlahor was admonished for enjoying himself in Dubai, while Joleon Lescott was berated for posting a photo of his car on social media in the immediate aftermath of their embarrassing 6-0 defeat to Liverpool in front of their own fans in February.
While footballers are allowed to enjoy a life beyond the football field, when two of your most experienced professionals are blatantly ignorant of their team’s plight and the dissatisfaction of fans that accompanies such a predicament, then their dedication to the cause has to be questioned.
Lescott has provided us with another clanger this afternoon, sparking harsh criticism from some of his predecessors. The former England centre-half told the BBC: “Now it’s confirmed maybe it’s a weight off the shoulders and we can give these fans what they deserve, some performances.”
Arguably the weight to which Lescott refers was lifted weeks ago given that their uninterrupted stint in the Premier League has been effectively extinguished since the turn of the year. The least that their fans deserved was a reason to keep turning up at Villa Park – they have failed to provide one. Even today, in full knowledge that a loss to Manchester United would put the final nail in their coffin, the most they could muster was one measly attempt on target.
As they departed Old Trafford, the Aston Villa players and management applauded their travelling contingent. The applause was reciprocated, but it was a feeble acknowledgement compared to their appreciations of Paul McGrath, Dion Dublin, Ian Taylor and Gareth Southgate – players who led Aston Villa to the upper echelons of English football for several campaigns, a distant memory today.