Is Fulham's Ross McCormack the man to fire Aston Villa back to the Premier League?
The 2015/16 campaign was a dark time for Aston Villa. Under the ownership of Randy Lerner, the West Midlands club had declined from top four challengers to relegation candidates, and finally fell through the trapdoor after several seasons of just about keeping their heads above water, a first relegation for the Birmingham based club since 1987.
Lerner sold the club soon after, and now the Villans are preparing for life in the Championship under new investment from Chinese businessman Tony Xia Jiantong and a new manager in Roberto Di Matteo.
The manager who led Chelsea to their finest hour – their only Champions League triumph in Munich back in 2012 – is now tasked with guiding Aston Villa through the tempestuous waters of the Championship back to the promised land of the Premier League at the first attempt.
The Villains scored the lowest amount of Premier League goals by some distance last season, registering a mere 27 in their 38 games, and Di Matteo has set about remedying their lack of goals by citing Fulham’s 29-year old Scottish international striker Ross McCormack as a target. According to the Daily Mail, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3719927/Aston-Villa-beat-Norwich-14m-signing-Fulham-striker-Ross-McCormack.html a £14million deal has been agreed between the two clubs and the Scot will join the Midlands outfit on a four-year contract.
Norwich City were another club in the market for the forward and were thought to have offered £11 million plus add-ons, but Villa trumped the Canaries’ offer on Tuesday with an initial offer of £12 million and a further two million in add-ons to take the value of the deal up to £14 million.
Ever since a move to Middlesbrough fell through back in January, McCormack has been known to see his future away from Craven Cottage, and a move to Aston Villa will be a move not only to a big club historically, but one now ready and equipped to make an effort to return to the Premier League at the first attempt.
McCormack himself is one of the Championship’s most prolific marksmen, having netted 42 times across two seasons for the Cottagers since joining the West London club from Leeds United back in 2014, where he notched 58 goals in 131 starts.
A player who has the pedigree to score goals in the Championship, he certainly constitutes a marquee signing for new chairman Tony Xia, who has been under increasing pressure to improve the team following Idrissa Gueye’s departure for Everton and increased speculation over the future of Scott Sinclair amidst interest from Scottish champions Celtic.
McCormack has been able to prove himself as a potent goal threat wherever he has been, and after spectacular showings and two clubs where he was often on the scoresheet, the time is right to now test himself at a club where his goals will not be in vain by helping sustain mid-table mediocrity, but fire a more consistent team up the table and back towards the Premier League.
Aston Villa were never able to compensate for the goals lost with Christian Benteke’s departure to Liverpool, and consequently suffered. If the signing of McCormack now goes through, they will have recruited a capable goal-scoring striker who has been able to produce his best form for two Championship clubs, and with the service he’d receive at Villa Park, he is almost certain to succeed there also.
He now has a chance to feature for a club that is firmly odds-on for promotion, and subsequently if he performs in the Championship that ever-elusive crack at the Premier League.
On paper, the Scotsman has all the attributes necessary to be the man to propel Aston Villa back to the Premier League at the first attempt, but only time will tell if McCormack will be able to replicate the form of his previous clubs with the Villains, or whether he will flop come his biggest opportunity.
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