Joleon Lescott's miserable season with Villa reached a new low on Sunday. Everyone knows about the Twitter fiasco which ensued after Sunday's 6-0 trouncing at the hands of Liverpool, but Sunday night's meltdown was far from Lescott's worst moment at Villa. Rather, it was just his most recent.
Previously, none of Lescott's abominations had been as blatantly obvious. They were subtle, unspoken, and implicit. Some fans recognized them while others explained that 'that's just how he always acts.' But the 33 year old Englishman, who has astoundingly served as our captain in recent weeks, is the player who is most to blame for this horrendous season. No single player or coach has had even remotely the same kind of negative impact that Lescott's perpetual pessimism has.
Firstly, there is the objective fact that Joleon Lescott is consistently embarrassed on the pitch. While he has never been the fastest of center halves and it's unreasonable to expect any center defender to keep pace with all of, or even most strikers, Lescott makes Libor Kozak, previousy known as the world's slowest man, look like Adama Traore. On Sunday, this was made painfully obvious as Divock Origi left Lescott in the dust and proceeded to score the easiest goal of his career, putting Liverpool 4-0 up. Jores Okore, Ciaran Clark, Micah Richards, Aly Cissokho, or Leandro Bacuna would have at least kept pace, but Lescott looks like a fish out of water when does anything but slowly saunter around defense and occasionally use his 6 foot 2 tall frame to win a header. In addition, he lacks the leadership that other veteran defenders often bring, often seeming disinterested in communicating with his teammates at all, regardless of the fact that he is by far the most experienced member of the defensive corps.
No one moment better epitomizes Lescott's Villa career than when Villa hosted Leicester on January 16th. After Jamie Vardy somehow found himself through on goal after a goal kick, he attempted a spectacular lob over Mark Bunn. Okore, Lescott's partner in defense, was hopelessly chasing Vardy, trying to compensate for his lapse of concentration which had made Vardy's lob possible. That left Lescott and Leicester forward Shinji Okazaki as the only remaining players in the box. When the ball left Vardy's foot, Lescott stopped dead in his tracks, seemingly sure that Bunn wouldn't produce a save, and convinced that even if he did, there was nothing he could do after. Bunn eventually did make a superb save, but Okazaki was there to tap home the rebound as Lescott stood miles away, dumbfounded. The optimism of Okazaki and the pessimism of Lescott is one of the reasons that Villa is currently being talked about as one of the worst teams in Premier League history. Whereas Okazaki had a hope and a belief that there was something he could do to contribute, Lescott assumed that all he could do was pass on the blame. Blame Okore for letting the ball bounce, blame Bacuna for not covering, blame Bunn for coming off his line - blame anybody but Lescott. It doesn't seem like Joleon Lescott ever thinks it's Joleon Lescott's fault.
Lescott symbolizes all that is wrong with Villa; an acceptance of defeat, a lack of courage, and an allergy to accountability. It is remarkable that this man was voted West Brom's player of the year last year, but just as he once made West Brom fans happy last year, he is making them happy once more as he sits in the driver's seat of Villa's bus bound for the Championship. I hope with all my heart that Lescott doesn't wear a Villa shirt once next season, but I fear that nobody will be interested in taking his services after seeing how he has torpedoed our season with his bleak attitude and inability to run, lead, or inspire.