By Coral Barry
Eric Black has refused to let the fans’ frustration influence the Aston Villa team he selects on matchday.
Joleon Lescott, Brad Guzan, Micah Richards and Leandro Bacuna were relentlessly booed by supporters at Villa Park during the club’s latest 4-2 defeat to Southampton on Saturday and caretaker manager Black has dismissed claims he should drop some of the more unpopular big names.
Lescott has clashed with fans at various occasions this season, most recently after he admitted relief at getting relegated, while Bacuna enraged supporters in March when he admitted he was already thinking about a move away.
Black took over from the sacked Remi Garde last month, but has failed to rally a seemingly disinterested group of players that has infuriate the Villa faithful.
However, Black remains bullish that he will not succumb to pressure calling for him to gut his first team.
“I can only pick on 37 years of football experience,” said Black speaking to the Birmingham Mail after the Saints defeat. “That’s all I go on.
“I can’t pick it depending on what journalists say and what supporters say. That would be unprofessional of me.
“I can understand the fans frustrations and they will definitely have ideas about the team they would want to see, I’ve no doubt about that.
“I think that multiplies because of the circumstances. But again, I cannot be led down that road. I can’t succumb to that.”
The quartet that has received the most hatred from the Villa fans have all been mainstays in the dismal season that will end with the club’s relegation into the Championship.
Bacuna has made 27 league appearances, Lescott 28, Richards 22 and Guzan has spent the majority of the season as Villa’s number one goalkeeper by accumulating 27 appearances.
Each of the four players have been dropped at one point or another in the season by either Garde or his predecessor Tim Sherwood.
The Saints result leaves Villa rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table and planning for life in the Championship after their relegation was confirmed by a 1-0 loss to Manchester United last weekend.
In other Villa news, a £100million take-over is in the works at the Midlands club.