Anyone reading Neil Moxley’s article in ‘The Daily Mirror’ last weekend must have chuckled at the thought of a rather red faced Steve Bruce confronting a worse for wear Ross McCormack in his slippers, cuppa in hand one morning last week…
However, what’s not funny is that this incident provides ample proof that player power remains an issue at Aston Villa in 2017 under a completely different regime and with the club having been relegated to the Championship.
Ross McCormack joined Aston Villa Football Club in the summer of 2016 under much fanfare. Conjecture from fans, many of whom heralded his signing as a marquee signing, led to the striker being described as the type of player who would fire us back to the hallowed and much coveted Premier League or, as one West Bromwich Albion fan calls it, “the greed league”. Whatever your opinion on Mr McCormack’s arrival, he was seen as a catalyst and the “guaranteed goals” signing. Few can argue with his record, although the jungle drums were alive with rumours about his personal life when we welcomed him to Villa Park with open arms.
Unfortunately, those open arms soon closed and are fast becoming crossed arms! It’s fair to say Mr McCormack has not lived up to his price tag. There have been many rumours and much discussion about why we are not getting the best out of him. Are we supplying him enough? Has he crumbled under the pressure of playing for our famous old club?
‘Maybe’ seems to be the answer to all of these questions, but one salient question that hasn’t been asked is does McCormack care about the club he plays for?
Apart from a few rumours about him at Leeds United, he’s had a pretty decent reputation in the game until now. Since coming to Villa Park, he seems to have gone feral and shown his total disdain for the honour of playing for one of English football’s great institutions and founding members. By repeatedly missing training, as evidenced by his fitness levels and performance on the pitch, this latest episode was clearly the final straw for manager Steve Bruce, who saw fit to publicly name and shame McCormack in front of the media.
Footballers need to realise Aston Villa is not a top notch gym and spa complete with the added benefit of a golf resort with a well stocked bar up the road! Believe it or not, it’s a professional football club with a huge fan base demanding any player who has the honour to don the illustrious claret and blue shirt wears it with pride on and off the pitch!
Watching the moving tributes to Graham Taylor pre-match and in the seventy-second minute and seeing some of our old stars, I wondered what they made of that second half display. Throwing away a two-goal lead with another gutless forty-five minute display by some in our squad was bad enough. When I heard this news of the so-called #GateGate incident post-match I was gobsmacked. After initial disbelief that a professional footballer could act like that, I couldn’t help but think about what Ken McNaught, Chris Nicholl, Ian Taylor, David Platt would make of all this. I would have loved to have seen their responses when they heard the news.
I wonder what the great Ron Saunders thinks of McCormack’s antics. Didn’t he famously fine one of his title-winning Aston Villa team in 1981-82 for being thirty minutes late for training the morning the player’s house burned down? How times have changed at B6…
To quote John Sitton, “There ain’t no players any more”. Sadly, this seems to be the case at Aston Villa Football Club.
Whatever your opinion of Steve Bruce, his handling of this situation has been exemplary. For the first time in his managerial career, he decided to name and shame a player. He’s not pulling any punches and is making it clear that such behaviour won’t be tolerated any longer. Amen to that!
For too long at Villa Park there has been a gravy train mentality, with the club seemingly being treated as a “retirement home”, where one last big pay day can be had for too many. Look at the disgraceful press articles last year on Agbonlahor being sent to fitness camp twice in one season. I’m still seething that a club captain could go out partying on the the day his boyhood club was relegated, refuse to go out on loan to Reading and be allowed to wear the number 11 shirt ever again!
These are supposedly professional footballers who earn eye-watering salaries. The problem is that, from a young age, too many players surround themselves with sychophants, expensive WAGS and greedy agents in many cases, who pander to their every whim and suck them and the clubs they play for dry. If fans or staff dare to dent their overinflated egos and confront them with their pathetic excuses regarding performances and conduct, the idiots cry “bullying” and mope about, their confidence “ruined”. Get real, guys!
The total lack of respect that McCormack has shown the club, the owners, his team-mates and fans is beyond the pale. This “up yours” attitude cannot be tolerated. I for one don’t want to see McCormack back in a Villa shirt for a very long time. Is that cutting our nose off to spite our face? Possibly. All the same, I’d much rather see young talent given a chance over that highly paid waster.
It’s time for everyone at Aston Villa and the fans to stand together behind Dr Xia and Steve Bruce and shout with one voice. Things must change at our football club!
The Championship is full of hungry, well organised teams ready to take our scalp if we have the likes of McCormack, who can’t be bothered to turn up on time, representing us. A line has been drawn in the sand by Bruce. He has made it clear that we should tolerate this rubbish no longer and I for one applaud him very loudly. With a very talented youth team coming through at a rate of knots and banging the door down of the first team, we need to make sure that talent is teamed with discipline, passion and fight. Under Bruce, I hope we get there.
As for McCormack, maybe he should contact Donald Trump who is looking to build an unscalable wall…