Jores Okore refused to be on the Aston Villa bench against Bournemouth and has asked not to be considered again, caretaker boss Eric Black has revealed.
Villa’s relegation from the Premier League was rubber-stamped last weekend, with a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United confirming their 28-year stay in the top flight was coming to an end.
Indiscipline, poor signings and bad appointments have resulted in shocking displays on the field, the blame for which owner Randy Lerner said on Friday “lies at my feet and no one else’s”.
Black had not seen the divisive owner’s “note to supporters” so was not keen to talk about it, although he was more forthcoming when it came to the playing staff.
“It wasn’t a disagreement,” Black said of Okore.
“I spoke to Jores the week beginning the Bournemouth game and I thought he responded well and thought he trained extremely well.
“But once I named the 11 on the Friday, which I normally do to try and get more detail into them, Jores asked to see me and said that he didn’t want to be considered to be on the bench, which I found surprising but that was his decision.
“So I then withdrew him from the squad. I then met him again on the Monday and asked if he had considered position over the weekend.
“At that point, he said that he didn’t want to be considered for any of the games going forwards. And at that point I really didn’t have a choice apart from remove him.
“I don’t want people who don’t want to be at Aston Villa and playing at Aston Villa, certainly under the circumstances, and the Bournemouth game was a massive game for us.
“So he has gone to the Under-21s and that’s what happens.
“I am surprised from a young or an old player, but Jores will have his own thoughts on that and I have my thoughts on it. We have come to a conclusion.”
Drama continues at Villa
It is a remarkable revelation at the end of a chastening week at Villa Park.
Joleon Lescott last weekend irked supporters by clumsily saying relegation was a “weight off the shoulders” as what chairman Steve Hollis called an “unacceptably fractured” season comes to a close.
Off the field things have not gone any better, with the news of imminent job cuts followed by directors David Bernstein and Mervyn King quitting the club.
There has also been the small matter of former hero Gabriel Agbonlahor being suspended, with the club launching their second investigation into the off-field actions of a striker who managed just one goal this term.
Already out of the first-team picture having been placed on a fitness programme by caretaker manager Black, the suspension relates to allegations in a national newspaper concerning his conduct after relegation was confirmed.
“That is an ongoing thing,” Black said. “Again, it is nothing to me – that was external to the footballing side.
“I don’t know (who took the decision) but there’s an investigation ongoing as we speak, but in terms of who was involved I couldn’t tell you.”
Asked if the forward still has a future at Villa Park, Black said: “It is a hard one to ask. You’d have to ask Gabby that.”
Black faces the unenviable task of trying to end a run of nine straight defeats when Southampton arrive on Saturday for a match where the Aston Villa Protest Group are urging fans to carry on with the ‘Banners out on 74’ campaign.
“There’s been one or two things to think about that’s for sure, but I think it’s all part of the circumstances,” the caretaker boss said when asked if this had been his toughest week in football.
“We’re all extremely disappointed. I certainly was on Saturday night and I have only been here two and a half months or so.
“I can’t even contemplate how bad the supporters must feel and then you add that to those who may lose their jobs.
“I can’t comprehend how difficult that must be for them, who have been quite a long time some of them.
“It is all unfortunately part of the circumstances of us being relegated but we now have to dust ourselves down again and move on, and try and get this club back to where it should be.”