Well this was a little bit of an unexpected turn of events over the weekend…Ross McCormack, a locked gate and disciplinary issues.
I thought it might be the build up to a bad joke but unfortunately it’s a joke just not in the way I initially thought.
I have left this a while as I’ve bounced between a couple of stand points on this one.
Firstly we have an experienced and known Championship demon in front of net at this level on our books, he arrived for a reported £12million of the finest Claret and Blue money but it’s fair to say he hasn’t hit the ground – 14 starts, 8 substitute showings and a return of 3 goals.
Not what we expected and certainly not what 30 year old McCormack would’ve wanted when he made the switch.
So confidence shot (his missed header against Wolverhampton Wanderers clearly stands out there), struggling to adjust to the area and missing the circle of friends he’d have whilst at Fulham?
All valid thoughts as somebody like McCormack will be heavily influenced by his form on the pitch and it’s fair to see he’s both been looked over when it came to a run of games but equally he hasn’t really seized the chances he’s had so far.
So talk of ‘continually missing training’ as manager Steve Bruce revealed post game as he spoke to the Official Site following the Preston draw could be a consequence.
I’m also not naive enough to not think if there are discipline issues that could be why he’s struggled on the pitch.
To refresh – this is what Bruce said.
‘Ross, in my opinion, is not fit enough to play. He won`t play until his attitude towards training improves. If it improves, I will reconsider him again. If he continually keeps missing training – like he has done – then that will be the situation.’
The BBC also have Bruce saying.
‘He is nowhere near fit enough to play and be involved. I don’t think he’s in a physical shape or state to contribute. Unless his attitude towards everything changes, he’s not going to be picked.’
‘It is fair to say disciplinary measures have been made against him because of his attitude and continually missing training. Not in 20 years in management have I ever gone down this route but I feel I have to take a stance because I will not put up with it. The latest excuse was that his gates had stuck but he couldn`t jump over a fence that was four feet six inches high. There has been too much indiscipline at Villa. He has decided the team has picked itself. How can I pick him when he doesn’t come to training? His failure to turn up for training has happened more than once. Everyone can have an excuse but when it is more than once I will not accept it.’
So a quick swift kick up the backside to get him on track, whether confidence related or not makes all the sense in the world.
However, when I read that BBC addition, another idea popped into my head.
‘There has been too much indiscipline at Villa. He has decided the team has picked itself. How can I pick him when he doesn’t come to training?’
So McCormack feels by Bruce’s own words that he’s not been given a fair enough crack of the whip and that his efforts will make no difference to the strikers chosen.
‘How can I pick him when he doesn’t come to training?’
Methinks we’ve been here before for some reason and said player is now a regular once more, constantly talked up for what – running? Oh and Ross has still outscored him and no his mis-controlled run at the keeper against Preston that ultimately set up Adomah is hardly worth shouting home about.
So from that perspective, sadly many fans have been ahead of McCormack and have been pointing out illogical starting XI’s and substitutions for a while. Fair do’s Bruce is still searching for his best XI, it’s his prerogative to tinker and switch on a weekly basis but we all have our own opinions.
McCormack’s used to being the ‘big man’ at a club and backing up on the pitch, he’s playing second fiddle and slightly miffed about it because he’s now lower in the pecking order that somebody who basically only succeeded in backing up their own weight the last few years.
Scored plenty of food it seemed but goals weren’t on the menu.
We’re also all aware of the Rushian Hepburn-Murphy situation, so McCormack – based on Bruce’s own words – is not alone to the casual observer.
And it’s a self made situation really and plenty of fans have discussed what ‘message’ the weekly Gabby praise will send to others, along with others believing our form and improvements went out the window when Gabby returned properly to contention because short of a few highlights we’re still not seeing the Gabby that Gabby used to be.
In any event it’s a pathetic situation to be in, but we find ourselves here once again and whatever the background – does McCormack have a valid reason, is Bruce spot on – it matters not. You collect your wage and you do your job to the best of your ability.
For managers and footballers that fluctuates but they get the big money to try and get things more right than wrong and here we are again in the news for all the wrong reasons and surely to God we should have better things to focus on.
But Bruce is equally right, he cannot condone or accept this if he hopes to move the club forward because existing players have seen it all before and the problem is our team spirit seems to have gone again and has been missing long before Ross-Gate.
The Birmingham Mail also have him saying.
‘I won`t put up with it. If I do, then I will have the lunatics running the asylum. If I let people do that they want, then we`ll have anarchy. You`re never going to create a team spirit, if the players are looking round giggling at each other because he`s not turned up again.’
Of course the story won’t end there, Sky Sports are reporting this afternoon that ‘sources’ have told them we are ready to deal on McCormack again such is Bruce’s annoyance and whilst there are no offers in yet, we’ll be open to sensible ones even if we take a hit on the fee we paid in the summer.
Those same sources say McCormack hasn’t settled and that’s certainly not helped things.
But it does mean we’ll have endless speculation now and counter story and some like the The Star are saying he hasn’t been fined in any event.
I’m losing the will to care to be honest.
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