Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins said “personal abuse” from a Brentford fan fuelled his celebration after scoring the winner in their 2-1 victory at his old club.
Watkins stood in the Brentford goal pointing directly into the West Stand after nodding home the goal to complete Villa’s comeback against the side where he spent three years as a player before leaving in 2020.
That moment set up a bad-tempered finale with Villa’s Boubacar Kamara sent off in added time amid a total of 10 bookings dished out in the remaining 18 minutes, and the England striker’s every touch booed by an irate home support.
Watkins told Sky Sports he still had total respect his former team but had been “agitated” by the persistent abuse from one fan in particular. It is understood the comments made related to Watkins’ family, but were not of a racial nature.
“It was a bit of a feisty game, it all spurred from my celebration but that’s not down to a lack of respect for the fans,” he said.
“I love the club, the players and staff, I’ve not got a bad word to say against them. But there was one person who was abusing me all game, the celebration wasn’t to anyone else but it was directed directly at him.
“[Thomas Frank] asked me why I had celebrated like that, I’m still on texting terms with him but it’s because of that reason.
“I feel like I’ve done so much for the club and they’ve done so much for me, football’s football and you can have a bit of banter but not when it’s personal.
“If the club don’t believe me it’s up to them – but I’ve explained it to Thomas and he knows I wouldn’t do that for no reason. It agitated me and that’s what happened.”
Villa called for the matter to be investigated.
The club posted on X: “Aston Villa FC wants to express its support for Ollie Watkins and, with the utmost respect for the big majority of Brentford fans and for the club, we ask the authorities to investigate this incident to find this individual.
“Zero tolerance to abuse in football.”
Emery: I did not like some the behaviours I saw
Villa boss Unai Emery was shown a yellow card for his part in attempting to play peacemaker during the late fracas which ended with Kamara’s red card for raising his hands to Yegor Yarmolyuk.
Despite watching his side move second in the Premier League and four points clear of champions Manchester City, he told Sky Sports he had mixed feelings after the game owing to some of the ugly scenes witnessed at the Gtech Community Stadium.
“Of course we are happy with the result,” he said. “But I could be happier. I want to analyse collectively and individually with the players, but it is my spirit when we are playing and winning to try to respect everything.
“On the pitch, the players are excited, both teams had some nervous moments, and things like what we saw can happen. But I want to work on it, because the red card of Kamara and some individual behaviours I don’t want in my team.
“We need to always keep our minds in balance. My message before the matches is always the same – respect ourselves, respect the opponent, respect the referees.
“We lost a little bit of our minds today in some of those behaviours, I want to focus and react to control it.”
Kamara is now set to miss Villa’s festive fixtures against Sheffield United, Manchester United and Burnley through suspension, much to the frustration of Emery.
“The big problem today is the red card of Kamara,” the Spaniard said in his post-match press conference. “This is the biggest problem for us.”
Frank backs Watkins, questions VAR calls
Beaten Brentford manager Frank backed his former player Watkins, calling him a “top person with top integrity”, and instead took aim at VAR for its role in Ben Mee’s red card when Brentford were 1-0 up.
Frank felt Mee, who had originally been booked for the high challenge on Leon Bailey, had been harshly treated by VAR official Craig Pawson, who he also felt failed to spot a penalty claim by his same defender before half-time.
“We were on top of the game in many ways, then a red card changed the game,” he told Sky Sports. “After that there were a lot of incidents I didn’t like, it’s not how the game should be played.
“Ollie is a very good player, and a top person with top integrity. I was surprised about the situation, I spoke to him and it was about a fan. He always shows class, so there’s no problem there.
“I don’t think it was a red card, we need consistency with VAR. We got a yellow with Frank Onyeka which I think is a red. Today, I watched it back, and it’s not a red. We need consistency.
“I think he should have had a penalty earlier in the game too. I’m big on VAR, but I don’t think David [Coote] had enough help from it. I still believe we need to learn lessons and go on with that if it did make mistakes, but it’s hard.”
Source : Sky Sports