Craig Burley berates Aston Villa's Joleon Lescott for his post-relegation comments

The 33-year-old defender claimed after the club's relegation was sealed with Saturday's 2-1 loss at Manchester United that the confirmation was a "weight off the shoulders".

Former Chelsea midfielder and now ESPN FC pundit Craig Burley has blasted Aston Villa defender Joleon Lescott for his comments in the wake of the club’s relegation.

Villa’s 28-year stay in the top-flight officially came to an end on Saturday afternoon when they suffered a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United to condemn them to the drop with four games left.

It was the ninth consecutive loss for the Premier League bottom dwellers and leaves them 15 points from safety after a truly dismal season which has seen them record only three top-flight wins and score a division-low 23 goals, while suffering 24 defeats in the process.

The senior players have understandably been sternly criticised by the fans and media alike over recent months for their poor performances and perceived lack of commitment, with Lescott becoming a particular target.

The 33-year-old defender has already courted controversy for his conduct during January’s FA Cup game at Wycombe Wanderers and his ill-advised Twitter antics the next month, and he caused further outrage following the United loss after labelling the club’s relegation a relief.

“It’s about results so regardless of how we played in patches today we are relegated," Lescott told the BBC. "But now it’s confirmed maybe it’s a weight off the shoulders and we can give these fans what they deserve, some performances.”

Speaking on ESPN FC after hearing Lescott’s comments, Burley branded the former England international “ignorant” and “arrogant” and went as far as to claim that he and his teammates epitomise what is wrong with the modern game.

“I’m absolutely astounded by the ignorance and arrogance of this individual,” said the former Scotland star. “There has never been more of a disconnect between some of these individuals that are playing the game now and the average supporter who pays his money and sits in the stands.

“These guys prop one of the worst-ever performances by a Premier League club and they drive out of that training ground in £100,000 sports cars as if they don’t care. It is absolutely astonishing.

“Joleon Lescott like the rest of the players should have come out and said, ‘I’m sorry for this season, it’s been an absolute disgrace. I hold my hands up, I’m part of it and we’ll try to put things right next year. Let’s hope we can come back sooner.’

“Is it a relief for Villa fans tonight who’ve paid £700 to go watch their team and travel all over the country? No, it’s not, and quite frankly Lescott like all those Villa players and the board are nothing short of a disgrace to this game.

“But do you know what? It’s unsurprising to listen to that sort of nonsense come out of an experienced player who’s been around the Premier League and some top clubs. For him to say that is nothing short of a disgrace as a Premier League footballer.

“That just shows you what the players think of the game these days. It’s not about the game, it’s not about the prestige, it’s not about the performance, it’s only about one thing – them and their money.”

Lescott, 33, joined Villa from Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion at the start of the season for an initial £1 million rising to £2 million with add-ons and has since made 27 total appearances for the club, scoring two goals in the process.

A boyhood Villa fan, the Birmingham-born defender’s uninspiring and error-strewn displays have been a significant factor in the team’s struggles this season and he has been the subject of boos during the past few home games.

He has already vowed to stay at Villa Park this summer to help the club try to bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of asking, but most fans would no doubt prefer if he moved on.

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