The veteran centre-back has been criticised after describing the club's relegation from the Premier League as "a weight off the shoulders".
Aston Villa caretaker manager Eric Black has defended the under-fire Joleon Lescott after the backlash he incurred for his post-relegation comments, insisting that the remarks were taken out of context.
Lescott, 33, received widespread criticism from both fans and the media following Villa’s recent 1-0 defeat at Manchester United when he described their confirmed relegation from the Premier League as a relief – calling it “a weight off the shoulders”.
However, speaking to AVTV, Black stressed that he felt much of the anger directed towards the veteran centre-back has been unwarranted.
“We were all there and we all had to be involved,” the Scot said about Lescott having to face the press following the United loss. “Looking back at the interview, I think some of the words were taken out of context a little bit and some of them that were highlighted weren’t really what Joleon wanted to get across.
“He may well think now that he chose the wrong words at the time but that’s what happens unfortunately.”
A Villa fan since childhood, Lescott was signed 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 28 total appearances for the club, scoring two goals in the process.
The Birmingham-born defender has also worn the captain’s armband in the absence of regular skipper Micah Richards, but he has become the subject of intense criticism over recent months after a string of poor performances and controversial incidents.
He initially angered Villa fans with his conduct during January’s FA Cup game at Wycombe Wanderers, when he and fellow substitute Brad Guzan were alleged to have sworn at travelling supporters, before causing further outrage the following month after tweeting a picture of a £120,000 Mercedes in the wake of the club’s embarrassing 6-0 home defeat to Liverpool.
The former Manchester City man later insisted that the picture was sent accidentally from his pocket while he was driving home from the match, but his recent comments have put a further strain on his toxic relationship with the claret and blue faithful.
His every touch in last Saturday’s 4-2 home defeat to Southampton was greeted by a chorus boos, and reports have since emerged that the club will look to offload him this summer [h/t Daily Mail].
Nevertheless, Black insists that Lescott has been a perfect professional since he joined the club’s coaching staff in January and even labelled him one of the squad’s hardest working and most dedicated players.
“All I can say about Joleon is that since I’ve been here he’s worked extremely hard,” Black added to AVTV. “He turns up for every training session. He’s the first one that wants to be involved in the team, so I’ve got to give him credit for that.”