Was Collymore Right To Call Out Lescott And Other Aston Villa Players Following Relegation?by Richard Smith / 18 April 2016, 14:10Tweet
The final nail was hammered in to Aston Villa's Premier League coffin at the weekend, as they were relegated following a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United. In the wake of the club dropping to the second tier of English football for the first time since 1987, former Villa player and fan, Stan Collymore, used his radio show on talkSPORT to call out Joleon Lescott, for comments he made in the aftermath of Saturday's defeat.
In an interview after the loss at Old Trafford, Lescott described finally being relegated as ‘relief', adding it was “a weight off the shoulders (of the players).” That was enough for Collymore to firstly take to Twitter, calling Lescott a T*t, before his on-air verbal assault.
Lescott: "Now confirmed maybe it's a weight off the shoulders and we can give these fans what they deserve, some performances." #avfc— Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) April 16, 2016
There is clearly plenty of beef between Collymore and Lescott, runnning deeper than what has been said on social media or the radio. However, the question remains, is Collymore pointing the finger at the right people by singling out the players? (He also took a swipe at Agbonlahor and Bacuna, during his tirade).
The fact that the club is on its fourth manager in just over 12 months, screams mismanagement from the front office is more much to blame than the individual performance of any of the 24 players that have pulled on the famous claret and blue colours, this season.
Whatever line of work you're in, if you have four different people to answer to in the space of a year; productivity, efficiency and output is going to suffer – that is exactly what has happened at Villa Park and with the club still pursuing the appointment of its next permanent boss, there is no signs that the situation is going to be halted in the Championship, next term.
The players are guilty of nothing more than taking advantage of the market conditions that they find themselves in. Show me a man in a capitalist industry, which is what football has sadly become, that asks for less money, and I will show you a liar.
These are young men taking home six figure salaries each month. It is an obscene amount of wealth but they shouldn't be punished for being gifted and fortunate. It is surely par for the course that they spend it on fast cars and enjoy nice holidays? There is no rationale behind implying that a sequence of poor performances should result in a player not enjoying the money they earn.
It seems quite natural for a twenty something male to want to enjoy life. Head to any bar in the UK next weekend, or any beach club in Europe this summer, and you'll find young people living life to excess isn't exclusive footballers. Rather, there'll be way more ‘weekend millionaires' quaffing Grey Goose from the bottl in pursuit of the ‘VIP' lifestyles that at least footballers can afford!
If Leandro Bacuna wants to ride a hover-board, why shouldn't he? It may not be everybody's preferred method of transport, but there is no apparent relationship between a 24-year-old enjoying a novelty gadget and his club's demise.
What is ironic is that Stan Collymore was one of the original ‘Spice Boys' when he was at Liverpool in the mid 90s. He was the first generation of players to benefit from the wave of cash that flooded the Premier League after it was founded in 1992. He benefitted from five transfers to Premier League clubs, so to make reference to the agents of the current Villa squad touting their clients in the summer seems somewhat hypocritical.
The current crop of Villa players have been sat in the ‘departure lounge' for some time, akin to working a notice period or being notified of redundancy, perhaps it can be argued that they owe something to the fans but it's merely subjective to cast assertions about levels of commitment, especially when there has been so much uncertainty and questions of job security off the pitch.
What also needs to be remembered is that relegation has been part of the game for over a hundred years, long before it became polluted by money. It is part and parcel that some teams aren't going to be good enough, it's always been the case and at least three teams each season are demoted from every division of the professional game. There is nothing new or unique about this, what is new, though, is the sense of entitlement of some fans that believe that their team has the right to success.
It is Randy Lerner and his fellow Premier League owners that have created the market conditions that distribute the wealth to the players, whilst fuelling the expectations of fans at the same time. It is the owners that appoint the chief executives and chairman who make the calls on managers, transfer budgets and objectives for the club. It is football's administration that has created the ecosystem in which these players revel.
It will be 10 years in August since Randy Lerner took control of Aston Villa. In that time, they have had eight managers sit in the dugout and 120 players make at least one first team appearance, the only common denominator in that time is that Randy Lerner has remained in charge of the club. He was chairman until January this year, when replaced by Steve Hollins, but still remains owner, it could be argued that the signs of Villa's demise has been a long time coming and to single out individuals in a team sport, as Collymore did, seems more than a little unfair.
The players are the easiest targets; they may not be up to meeting the overinflated expectations of fans, but blaming the players is no different than having an angry rant at the call centre operator when your broadband goes down or gas bill goes up - it is the decision makers who are ultimately at fault.
Players come and go; managers come and go; teams will get promoted and teams will get relegated. Those with influence within the media should look to use the platforms that they have in the best interest of the fans, to voice their opinions at the people who can really make a difference, not some schoolyard spat with individual players.
The likes of Lescott, Bacuna and Agbonlahor may not be around for Championship football, next season, but those responsible for making the decisions to try and stop Aston Villa Football Club from falling like a stone, will be! Stan Collymore should use his voice as a broadcast journalist to amplify those concerns that are the result of the sum of all the parts, rather than taking issue with the single parts.