Things appear to be going from bad to worse for Aston Villa and to be fair their vice captain Jolean Lescott is hardly helping matters. The former England centre half has caught the attention of the media in the last few weeks with some off field tweeting that has done little to help the cause. It first began shortly after Villa’s humiliating hammering by Liverpool where they were truly outclassed and embarrassed as Klopp’s side ran in 6-0 winners. Less than two hours after the final whistle, Lescott posted a picture to his Twitter account of a silver Mercedes-AMG S 63 Coupe which retails for over £125,000. That post was rightly met with a cascade of abuse hurled at the player over his lack of care for the situation his club is currently in. Lescott however protested his innocents saying that the tweet was made in accident whilst driving with his phone in his pocket. Quite how the phone managed to unlock, open twitter, select the photo and then post is unknown. But if Lescott says that is what happened then it must have.
Then things went from bad to worse for Lescott when he reacted badly to some online abuse by angrily inviting a supporter down to Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground to show how he could do better – “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come down and try. FACT YOU WONT.” That prompted former Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore to reach out to the player who reacted again angrily by calling Collymore a “div and a complete tool” and that he shouldn’t get involved as its not as if he hasn’t made any mistakes. The pressure of Villa’s peril is clearly getting to the 33 year old but his over reliance of social media is hardly helping. It does raise the question over whether players should use social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Whilst viewed as a positive way for players to bridge the gap between them and the fans, it does have its downfalls including opening the player up for abused and online trolling. Added into this, it requires the player to act in an appropriate manner and not abuse their position. The trial of former Sunderland winger Adam Johnson is currently underway and is a stark reminder for all players about their social and moral responsibilities. Johnson was arrested on the suspicion of having sexual activity with a 15 year old girl who he met on Snapchat. Johnson is accused of grooming the besotted fan who idolized him and eventually engaging with her in a sexual act.
For Lescott and others in his position, the choice is easy – post responsible and ignore the comments made or simply give up social media all together. Many players have decided to turn away from communication platforms like Twitter like former Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper who walked away from his account after suffering abuse following his decision to join arch rivals Sunderland. At the time, Harper justified his decision by stating that at 40 years old with his career close to finishing his options were limited following his departure from Hull so when the chance came of a contract at a club near where his family lived, he had to take it. Like anyone in his situation, Harper needed a job even if it was at his old club’s bitter rivals. In recent months, the clubs have started to up their games too in order to protect their players with several now offering to either fully manage or filter their stars twitter accounts. This is meant to prevent players like Lescott from posting things that could upset fans or attractive negative comments. Whatever the solution, it is ultimately up to the players to embrace and understand the good and the bad that can come from using social media. Something that Lescott needs to learn and quickly.