As an Wolves fan, it was great to see Joleon Lescott make his Champions League debut for Manchester City in the club’s inaugural fixture against Napoli. After breaking through the youth ranks at Molineux, it was a pleasure to watch him grow and progress during his five years in the first team. Seeing his cultured, dominant displays in central defence was one of the brief highlights in what was an underwhelming period for the club following our relegation from the Premiership in 2004.
From the moment he stepped onto the hallowed turf at Molineux, it was evident that here was a player who was going to go far in the game. Along with our talented, yet unfortunate, goalkeeper Matt Murray, Lescott formed the backbone of a defence that saw us promoted to the Premiership in 2003. And when both were removed, through long term injury, for our first season in the top flight, it’s safe to say that our chances of survival were terminally hit before the campaign kicked off. Two poor, underachieving seasons followed, with Lescott’s hugely consistent performances the pleasant distraction of Glenn Hoddle’s unsuccessful reign at Molineux (Carl Cort on the wing - say no more!) Upon our failure in 2006, it was inevitable that he was going to have to leave Wolves to realize his dream of playing for England. He completed a £5million move to Everton, predictably performing to a high level on a consistently basis, and a year later he made his international debut.
After improving his game at Goodison Park, and proving his versatility with his admirable performances at left back, he made a big money move to Manchester City. His time at Eastlands has been pretty much up and down and it has took him some time to get his career back on track. He suffered with niggling injuries and was in and out of the side in his first season. By Christmas 2010, there was talk of Lescott coming back to Molineux after slipping out of first team contention. And with City widely expected to splash big money during the transfer window, it seemed likely that he was close to the exit.
However, opportunity called for Lescott when fellow defender Kolo Toure failed a drug test. With the Ivorian banned for 6 months, Lescott grabbed his chance and hasn’t looked back since. Alongside Vincent Kompany at the heart of defence, he ended the season in fine form and played his part as City won the F.A Cup and qualified for the Champions League.
In terms of England, as I take my Wolves tinted glasses off, I realize that it will be hard for him to nail down a regular spot, especially with the emerging defensive talent of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. He also made his debut during the time when England were at their lowest ebb during the Euro 2008 qualifiers and maybe, in the eyes of many England fans, he has suffered because of that. I certainly believe he has some part to play within the national set up.
So it was great to see him make his CL debut two weeks ago. After a slight lull in is career, it seems as if Lescott is back on the right track. Manchester City fans will obviously be able to spread more light on his performances, as they watch him week in, week out, but I can only imagine they are impressed with his performances and see him as an integral part of the side. As Toure closes in on a return to action, it will remain to be seen who Roberto Mancini sees as his long term central defensive partnership.