Paul Merson attacks criticism of Aston Villa's Joleon Lescott as unwarranted

Villa Park 6

Former Villa midfielder sticks up for Joleon Lescott.

Former Aston Villa midfielder Paul Merson has defended Joleon Lescott for his comments made after their relegation - despite his old Arsenal teammate Ian Wright claiming they were indefensible.

Speaking to The BBC after Villa lost to Manchester United last weekend and confirmed their relegation, Lescott said: "Regardless of how we played in patches today, we are relegated. But now it's confirmed, maybe it's a weight off the shoulders and we can give these fans what they deserve, some performances."

Lescott received plenty of stick for his comments, which were decried as insensitive,

Merson believes Lescott was simply misunderstood, and criticism is unwarranted.

Villa's first game since their relegation comes this weekend when they host a Southampton side in the top half of the table. Merson urges Villa to put in several under-21 players, but predicts the Saints will have too much in any case, calling a 2-0 away win for Ronald Koeman's side.

He told SkySports: "I felt sorry for Joleon Lescott in the week because his comments about relegation being a relief were not meant like that. He meant the club could concentrate on bouncing back next season, so a lot of the criticism he received was unwarranted."

Ian Wright told BBC 5 Live's 606 programme last week: "He's just got it totally all wrong. It's a disaster. In his mind he's trying to say the right thing but its come out all wrong.

"You can't defend what he said. It was something which was literally a jaw dropping moment. I can't say I feel sorry for him, I just feel like oh my gosh."

Villa's first game since their relegation comes this weekend when they host a Southampton side in the top half of the table. Merson urges Villa to put in several under-21 players, but predicts the Saints will have too much in any case, calling a 2-0 away win for Ronald Koeman's side.

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