Why does a footballer despite being paid five figures a week suddenly start missing training and struggles to keep focus?
This is a question that perhaps hasn’t actually been asked as media and fans alike lashed out at Ross McCormack in a knee-jerk fashion without actually getting his side of the story.
Listening to BBC WM Radio after the Preston game host Paul Franks was practically inciting the pitchfork brigade to vent their disgust at McCormack without trying to find any context.
To be fair, his BBC WM college Mark Regan had been trying to get to the bottom of the issue when interviewing Villa boss Steve Bruce in a post-match roundtable radio interview, but was cut off by Free Radio’s Tom Ross’s innocuous question about transfer targets. It’s a shame Ross wasn’t listening to the potential conversation unfurling in front of him.
Doctor Gets Involved
The first clue to suggest that all is not 100% in the world of Ross McCormack was a tweet by the Villa owner Tony Xia, stating that he’d had a chat with Ross and that the striker was going through a ‘difficult time’.
Have talked to Ross.It’s hard to go through the difficulty time in personal life but we all have2take whatever 2become a real MAN!Stand up! https://t.co/dh9P84jLzD
— Dr. Tony Xia (@Dr_TonyXia) January 22, 2017
There’s been suggestions that McCormack is having divorce/break-up issues or even drink issues, but this is pure social media speculation at this point. No doubt we’ll find out his side of the story in the coming week.
Certainly he would have been frustrated by his Villa career so far, but he needs to knuckle down in terms of that.
However, it does seem that whatever sympathy that Villa as a club may have had for whatever the striker was going through, has run out. Suggesting he hasn’t shown the character to deal with it.
Life often isn’t a bed of roses, but at the same time, McCormack is being paid handsomely and contracted to be a professional footballer for the club. And that means stay as fit as possible and turn up to training.
Villa board made a big issue about only signing players with the right character & leadership qualities…McCormack wasn’t cheap. ???? #avfc
— My Old Man Said (@oldmansaid) January 21, 2017
The Villa owner in telling McCormack to ‘become a real man! Stand up!’ is taking the same public approach as he did with Jack Grealish and Agbonlahor’s issues, which seems to suggest McCormack isn’t suffering any deeper issues.
Bruce Tipping Point
Judging by the stuck gate story, McCormack has perhaps being wallowing a little in whatever he has been going through and he hasn’t been professional enough to separate it from his duty to Aston Villa football club.
Considering Steve Bruce has rehabilitated Gabby Agbonlahor, it would suggest that the Villa boss has a big threshold for patience and is willing to give people a chance. Remember Agbonlahor had been written off by even the Villa owner, when he took over the club. So, for Bruce to lose his patience on this McCormack issue and publicly out him suggests the Villa boss isn’t too pleased.
“Not in 20 years of management have I gone down this road of publicly shaming a player but I have to make a stand because I won’t put up with it. Not on my watch,” Bruce told the Daily Mirror.
“I ask only one thing. When I tell them they are in, everyone else is in. How can I pick him when he doesn’t want to come training?
“It’s happened more than once. Everyone can have an excuse for one occasion but when it is more than that I will not accept it.”
Bruce has been forced to give the hairdryer treatment to the Villa team on a number of occasions this season. With performances way below par (although the first half against Preston showed shoots of promise) and repeated public discipline issues with team members, there’s no surprise this team is struggling to be a legitimate candidate for promotion this season.
Some supporters talk about the hangover from last season, but since then we have a new owner, have had two new managers, spent £55+ million and have over half a team of new players.
Yes, Villa only gained 17 points last season, but Sunderland were relegated at the end of the 2005-06 season with an embarrassing 15 points. The next season, with new manager Roy Keane in charge they won the Championship title.
The problem is current and like McCormack, Aston Villa cannot afford to continually wallow in issues of their own making.
To quote the good doctor, it’s time to ‘stand up!’
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