Monday 21 May 2018

Eric Black: Joleon Lescott must perform to repair relationship with furious fans

Aston Villa fans are getting used to a life outside the Premier League
Aston Villa fans are getting used to a life outside the Premier League

Aston Villa caretaker manager Eric Black has told Joleon Lescott the only way to repair his fractured relationship with the club's furious fans is to perform.

The defender was one of the players singled out by angry supporters in Saturday's 4-2 defeat to Southampton.

In their first game since relegation from the Barclays Premier League was confirmed, home fans turned on Villa early.

Lescott was abused after a mistake almost allowed Shane Long to score before he eventually lost Long for the Saints' opener.

Fans were raging after the ex-England star claimed he tweeted a picture of a top-of-the-range Mercedes following February's 6-0 defeat to Liverpool by accident and Black knows how he can win them over.

He said: "That will be up to performances on the pitch. There is no other way to turn the fans around.

"But I can't point the finger at Joleon Lescott because of his attitude or his desire to be in the team so I give him credit for that.

"He's an extremely professional individual and you'd have to ask him how he feels. He's never said anything to me (that it is too much for him).

"Obviously I'd have to look at the whole game again to see if that's the case but he's not voiced anything like that to me.

"He's a very experienced footballer and it won't get too much for him. He's part of the team, we have to remain a group and these are not easy circumstances."

Bottom club Villa will equal a club record of 11 straight defeats, previously set in 1963, if they lose at Watford on Saturday.

They were beaten at the weekend after Dusan Tadic scored twice before Sadio Mane added an injury-time fourth after Long's opener.

Ashley Westwood's brace was consolation for Villa and Black is desperate to avoid another defeat.

He added: "It will be up to me to decide how we approach our next game, but I can assure you we have no intention of going for any records.

"We will start to prepare them on Monday and if we get a performance to stop (the rot), I'll be a happy man."

Press Association

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