Ross McCormack’s time as an Aston Villa player has seen him turn out more times for loan clubs than his parent club, and things continue to get worse for the former Scotland international.
Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)
There was a time when Ross McCormack was a force to be reckoned with. It’s hard to see that at the present day but rest assured, there was indeed a time. One could not fault then-Aston Villa manager Robert Di Matteo for wanting to bring in the previous seasons top scorer in the Championship the season after Aston Villa were relegated in 2016. McCormack was brought into Villa to do what he had been doing for the previous few seasons: scoring goals in buckets. Once McCormack put pen to paper, there was excitement. There was intrigue. There might of been a few upset about the price tag, too.
At present day however, McCormack seems to be a footballer past his expiry date with a career now riddled with controversy. While McCormack is, for all intents and purposes, contracted to Aston Villa, he has played far more games for other clubs while on loan than he has for his parent Midlands club. After a promising 2017-2018 season in Australia on loan with Melbourne City, it seem as though McCormack was starting to really enjoy playing football again for one reason or another after a lacklustre time at Villa. He scored 14 goals in only 17 appearances. While McCormack may not be a Championship standard player any longer, he proved a threat from set-pieces and long distance efforts during his time with the A-League club. Ultimately, McCormack would be released from Melbourne City after showing up extremely late to training sessions. It sounded all too familiar.
Looking back on things as they stood, there was but a very tiny glimmer of hope that McCormack would actually fight his way back into the good graces at Aston Villa and get a second chance to prove himself once he returned in the January window. Previously in the 17-18 season, there was a widely covered and reported dust up between McCormack and then-Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce. Bruce went as far as to question McCormack’s dedication, general attitude and fitness levels in a public forum, telling BBC WM 95.6: “He is nowhere near fit enough to play and be involved. 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.”
It was then and there that the axe had truly fallen for McCormack and his time at Aston Villa. It didn’t matter what he did on the pitch at Melbourne City. It didn’t matter what he did in the coming transfer windows where he tried again to ply his trade in Australia and most recently, having another nightmare at Motherwell in Scotland.
McCormack only made four appearances for Motherwell since joining in January. His debut for The Steelmen against Ross County wasn’t exactly the warm story Motherwell supporters were hoping for. McCormack looked very out of shape and incredibly unfit, even being substituted at half-time. Nothing much would change in his next three appearances, either. It was not only the physical side of the game that seemed to pass McCormack by, but also the technical elements as well. His first touch and ability to find a teammate was nowhere to be seen. On March 8th, McCormack returned to Aston Villa after a reoccurring calf injury. Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson simply said, “We won’t be seeing him any time soon” when asked about McCormack’s injury status.
The reality is that McCormack still has another year remaining on his contract at Aston Villa. There seems to be more of a chance of Tammy Abraham staying at Aston Villa in the summer than McCormack getting a chance to redeem himself at Villa Park. Dean Smith and Aston Villa as a whole have a very interesting summer ahead of themselves, regardless of promotion or not. It would be an otherworldly episode of the Twilight Zone if Dean Smith somehow needed and wanted McCormack anywhere near the starting eighteen. You may see McCormack in training camp this summer, but even that seems like a far off possibility at this stage.
It is an unusual fall from grace for a football player that once scored 29 goals in the 2013/14 season, not to mention for a footballer who cost Aston Villa an insane 12 million pounds. There is no telling what happens to Ross from this point forward, although it seems another loan away from Villa is on the cards. But what club would place a gamble on a 32 year old striker with discipline, fitness, attitude and now injury problems? It is a very hard sell, but could there be a chance that Ross may have a resurgence somewhere the way he did at Melbourne, minus his damning timekeeping issues?
One thing is for certain: most Aston Villa supporters cannot wait to see the back of him.