Reports suggest that there could be around 10 players departing as Steve Bruce looks to get rid of the deadwood from the squad, but it appears Ross McCormack will not be one of them. He and Bruce recently held clear the air talks which met went positively according to Chief Executive Keith Wyness.
McCormack is now 30 and was loaned out to Nottingham Forest earlier this year where he struggled to make an impact, scoring once in just seven appearances. The player undoubtedly has talent having scored 116 goals in 307 appearances in English football, before he signed for Aston Villa for £12.16 million (according to Transfermarkt.co.uk) last summer. The Scotland international has failed to make any real impact since he made the move to B6.
I believe this is because McCormack hasn’t been played in his best position. Although he can play as a number 9, he is far better suited to orchestrating the play from deeper. His attributes make him more effective as a support striker role or as an old fashioned number 10. Being deployed in a wide position as part of a front 3 leaves him unable to dictate the play and cause defences problems with through balls or clever interchanges. His lack of mobility and pace aren’t suited to him beating opponents down the flank either.
To get the best out of McCormack would mean Bruce reverting back to a 4-4-2 formation or for him to play in a 4-2-3-1 as the central figure in a trident behind the main striker. Bruce seems to have settled on a 4-3-3 formation, something which didn’t gain the wins or points that a team of our quality should yield. Perhaps, it’s time to try switch things up.
With Kodjia injured, this presents McCormack’s best chance to wrestle his way back into the team. He could well find himself playing with Scott Hogan, another player with a point to prove at Villa Park. Hogan likes to get in behind defences and is crafty in the penalty area. With McCormack pulling the strings from deep, he may have a perfect foil in Hogan, to link up with.
There is already a number 10 at the club. It is Jack Grealish’s preferred position yet he is yet to hold down a regular place in the first team let alone make a position his own. After two disappointing seasons, he is another player who needs to prove a point. Competition for places is healthy and options are needed in the long, gruelling campaign, where promotion is the key objective.