Lescott: The future is brighter here
Joleon Lescott has revealed what fuelled his desire to leave Everton: Manchester City are more likely to gate-crash the top four.
The Toffees finished fifth last term and reached the FA Cup final, and David Moyes was anxious to build on his squad rather than lose senior players as he geared himself up for the final assault on those coveted UEFA Champions League slots. Yet Lescott could not see how Everton were going to smash the glass ceiling that has kept the established order apart from the rest.
In order to achieve that, serious money was required. The type of money Manchester City have been spending this summer, which is why he jumped at the chance to become the second most expensive defender in English football history, behind Rio Ferdinand.
"I see the future being brighter here than Everton," he said. "Everyone outside the top four are aiming for the same thing, but I think Manchester City are more equipped to get there faster than Everton. That is why I made the change."
Moyes may not like the words, but Lescott cannot be blamed for his honesty. Many would also argue he is being accurate with his assessment, although the fall-out from his row with Moyes is likely to spoil a relationship with Everton's fans that the player has always cherished.
"Of course it is going to bother me," he said. "I had a good rapport with the fans and we got on well. I would like to think they understand I gave my all for Everton."
Not that Lescott wants to spend too much time talking about his old club. Yet the 27-year-old has been accused of having a bad attitude by Moyes, who felt he made a mistake playing the defender in Everton's 6-1 home defeat by Arsenal on the opening day.
"I was disappointed in the comments about my attitude because they were not accurate," he said. "I felt I conducted myself in the right way. If the players at Everton didn't think so, I apologise.
"I also thought the criticism of my performance against Arsenal was a little bit unfair. I know it wasn't my finest performance for Everton. But I didn't think it was my worst either. It was a collective performance and Arsenal were better than us on the day."
Ironically, Lescott should get an immediate chance to put that right as his home debut for City is likely to come against the Gunners on 12 September, when veteran Brazilian Sylvinho should also be available. The 35-year-old's general fitness means he will not be considered for Sunday's trip to Portsmouth, when Lescott is likely to make his debut, a fulsome tribute from Hughes ringing in his ears.
"Joleon is arguably the best centre-half in the Premier League and can be for a number of years," said Hughes. "Some transfers are completed relatively quickly, others take longer. This has been one of the latter cases but the fact we kept pushing for it is indicative of my view on the player."
Dunne set for departure lounge?
Lescott will not be involved in City's League Cup game at Crystal Palace tomorrow night. Instead, captain Richard Dunne will make what could turn out to be his final appearance for the Eastlands outfit.
The arrivals of Lescott and Kolo Toure have placed a question mark over the Republic of Ireland international's future. As Nedum Onuoha has recently signed a long-term contract extension, and Micah Richards and Vincent Kompany are both capable of playing in central defence, Dunne would appear to be surplus to requirements.
Hughes is adopting a cautious stance, but it is believed Aston Villa are keen to snap up the Dublin-born player. "When you try to bring good players to your club, other people have a view on the future of certain others," the Welsh manager said.
"We are trying to make the club stronger but there is bound to be interest, and no doubt we will get calls about Richard and other centre-halves at the club. It is not necessarily the case that because Joleon is here, other players will leave. It depends on individual circumstance."