On balance, Ross McCormack was probably quite glad to escape the clutches of Villa Park and not just because Steve Bruce wanted his head on a silver platter.
The 30-year-old striker moved to Nottingham Forest on loan for the remainder of the season, as reported by the Daily Mail, after enduring the most testing period of his career at Aston Villa, not just on the pitch but off it too.
McCormack scored only three times in 20 Championship appearances, meaning Villa paid, on average, £4 million per goal. Yet, his unusual profligacy in front of goal paled into insignificance compared to his behaviour behind the scenes.
As reported by The Guardian, Steve Bruce fired both barrels at Villa’s marquee summer signing last month, slamming his unprofessional conduct. After all, even Joleon Lescott did not use broken electric gates as an excuse for missing training.
And, on initial inspection, a move to Nottingham Forest could prove beneficial for all parties. McCormack, in particular, could discover an environment better suited to his needs, allowing him to play in his preferred position and rediscover the prolific form that made him one of the league’s most feared hit men before he donned claret and blue.
However, although only four places, and even fewer points, separate his old club and his new in the table, McCormack could live to regret missing his chance at Aston Villa.
Managerless Forest have failed to progress under an owner that makes Vincent Tan appear adored, and have flirted with making a return to the third tier look more likely than challenging to head back to the first.
They have improved under caretaker Gary Brazil in recent weeks, but lost four in a row over the New Year.
Meanwhile, Villa, even if they are struggling to build on a decent start by Steve Bruce, are planning for the future. Ambitious owner Tony Xia continues to spend on proven talent to stoke the flames of a promotion push, albeit one possibly delayed until next season.
Though McCormack's bridges with Bruce may have been burned, he may have found that his chance of a promotion challenge over the next 18 months would have been better served by attempting to turn things round at Villa Park.
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