Prodigal son or forgotten man? Well, whatever your thoughts on Ross McCormack, the fact is he’s back and he is a key figure regardless of what happens next.
The issue is exactly that though. What does happen next?
McCormack arrived back this week following a loan spell in Australia where he scored 14 times in 17 appearances for Melbourne City.
After leaving under a dark cloud following the well-publicised bust-up with Steve Bruce, no one knows what the future will hold but it’s safe to say he could end up being a pivotal figure.
I’ve tried to weigh up the arguments for both sides as best as possible and the debate will rumble on. However, it needs to be put to bed quickly to ensure the positivity is maintained.
Steve Bruce stated that McCormack’s time at Melbourne appears to be over. As he has played for two teams, he would be ineligible to sign for anyone else.
Bruce then followed up by saying that McCormack will be given a few weeks off.
With his recent form and our apparent lack of incoming strikers to cover an area we are desperately short of, is this the right move?
Scott Hogan has hit a purple patch and hopefully, this continues but his injury record is a concern. Without him, we have Keinan Davis who hasn’t scored many despite his tireless work and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy with very little first team experience. There is also Gabby Agbonlahor of course, but who knows whether we will see him again?
2. MESSAGE TO OTHER PLAYERS
It is a big statement to some of the aforementioned players should McCormack be given the chance to get back into the fold. Would his inclusion after the infamous ‘Gate-gate’ cause ill-feeling from others fighting for a regular starting berth?
3. TAKING THE OPPORTUNITY
Despite it being the Australian League and many of his goals were set pieces, McCormack has gone and scored goals. His primary job. We have had other players who we know all too well who have been more than happy to sit out their contracts without looking to play regular football.
Just a month or so ago, there were a lot of calls for Hogan to go and yet he had a regular opportunity arise and he has taken it in recent weeks (albeit it after a different situation).
It could be seen as the ‘final straw’ for McCormack to show what he can do and contribute to the end of the season when he could arguably be needed most.
4. WHAT CAN HE DO?
Granted, things didn’t go well in the early stages of McCormack’s Villa career. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that he scored 116 league goals at Championship level for Cardiff, Leeds and Fulham respectively.
McCormack does offer another set piece option too with a history of scoring both penalties and free kicks.
5. KILLING THE VIBES – FORGIVE, FORGET BUT EXPECT
Even when things were not going well for McCormack, he would celebrate with every player when a goal was scored and appeared happy around the other players.
Perhaps the most important thing to determine what is going to happen is the relationship between manager and player.
Should there be any ill-feeling and edge then a decision to end McCormack’s time at Villa needs to be made as quickly as possible. The last thing the team needs is bad press and constant questioning relating to negativity.
However, should Bruce open up the gates (sorry) to a return, then he needs to be treated fairly yet be expected to put the hard work in.
The arrival of Steve Agnew to the coaching staff appears to have inspired our attacking play and could he have a big say in how McCormack does in a Villa shirt if the chance arises?
One thing is for sure, it’s a messy and delicate situation and it needs to be dealt with professionally. No player will ever be bigger than the club and at the same time, McCormack could ironically turn out to make a difference in the quest for promotion. Stay tuned, I feel this could go on for a while…