Regular readers of MyFootballWriter may know that I’m prone to an occasional ramble down the memory lane of my chequered dating history in search of clumsy footballing metaphors.
Many years ago, I had an on-off relationship with a lass called Becky. The stop-start nature of our two years ‘together’ owed much to the fact that we didn’t really like each other.
However neither did we like the thought of the other one being with someone else – which brings me to Ross McCormack.
When City were odds on to complete the deal, the prospect of breaking our transfer record on McCormack left many (myself included) feeling distinctly uncomfortable on the basis that he is:
a) The wrong side of 30 with little sell-on value;
b) Untried in the top flight;
c) Similar in style to Gary Hooper who hardly flourished under Alex Neil.
However all that changed when Aston Villa entered the scene.
Suddenly Ross became attractive; a priority; the missing piece of the jigsaw.
All the more galling therefore to see him paraded in Claret and Blue whilst the Villa owner, Dr Tony Xia, gleefully took to social media to crow about the signing and basically rub it in our faces.
The use of Twitter by anyone associated with a football club obviously provides a way to connect with the fans, akin to giving a virtual kiss of the badge on the club’s shirt. However it also becomes a minefield should results or displays not be to their liking.
Dr. Xia’s recent efforts were perhaps misguided considering his status and position. Mind you, I guess if you’ve just committed to spending £21million, you feel like you deserve to get something for your money, even if it’s just the opportunity to be smug and get a few retweets.
For me, it stirred emotions that were reminiscent of the occasion that I bumped into Becky on a date with another guy called Brett. His self-satisfied grin as we were introduced is something that still rankles to this day.
Becky had a privileged background and expensive tastes. No fish and chips in front of the television for her; dates with Becky invariably meant an evening spent at the finest restaurants and bars. In short, a lifestyle I could ill-afford.
The news that Villa have reportedly agreed to pay McCormack £45K a week over the next four years means that they are set to pay an extortionate price for their new ‘relationship’.
Just like Brett did.
On the same morning that McCormack signed for Villa, City announced the signing of Alex Pritchard, which certainly softened the blow. It also served to counter the accusations that our Board are unable to conclude their business quickly. In essence, Norwich did to Brighton what Villa did to Norwich and what Brett did to me.
All’s fair in love and the transfer market.
Pritchard’s acquisition looks a shrewd one. Younger, cheaper and with top flight experience, his display at Carrow Road two years ago whilst on loan at Brentford, led to him featuring on many a City fan’s wish list. Perhaps the only caveat to that eye-catching display was the presence of Steven Whittaker competing with him in the middle of the pitch.
The other question mark surrounds the need for yet another attacking midfielder in a squad where competition for those roles is already fierce.
The current imbalance between out-and-out strikers and those who prefer to operate just behind would be more of a concern if the club hadn’t made it perfectly clear that the hunt is very much on to fill the vacant No 9 shirt.
Furthermore Alex Neil recently indicated that he is prepared to alter formation and tactics to accommodate the form players at his disposal rather than stick to a rigid game plan.
So whilst it’s unlikely that we’ll see Barcelona’s patented 4-6-0 formation or a ‘false nine’, we can surely expect a packed midfield and plenty of possession-based, fluid, attacking football of the kind that served us so well at Ewood Park.
With two-holding midfielders offering a platform for the likes of Hoolahan, Naismith, Pritchard, Maddison, Canos and the Murphy twins to weave their collective magic, there could be many more great days ahead.
The other noteworthy aspect of Alex Neil’s willingness to change formation is his previous stance in relation to Kyle Lafferty. During qualification for the Euros when Big Kyle’s fires burned even brighter than those of Will Griggs, many City fans were clamouring for his inclusion. Yet Neil discounted that as an option on the basis that Lafferty didn’t suit the system.
I suspect what he actually meant was “I simply don’t rate him…” but that’s not a strapline that anybody in advertising or marketing would suggest using when trying to promote a ‘product’ or negotiate a sale.
So if (as seems likely), Lafferty moves on to pastures new, we can surely look forward to two new strikers coming in whilst also seeing the back of a player whose use of social media is arguably as misguided as that of a certain owner of a Midlands football club.
You can follow Steve’s own misguided use of social media on Twitter @stevocook
He is sooooo un-Hooper it is unbelievable. Have you actually seen his ghouls?! Holloway said he could play alongside Messi and Ronaldo on TV…so there.
Stewart Lewis says
I’m biased, of course, but I reckon there’s some fine writing on this site – and today is no exception.
Nowhere do the vagaries of human nature show themselves more clearly than in our work life, love life and supporting life. At work I once saw something I wasn’t supposed to: a list of everyone’s salaries. I barely registered the talented people who earned less than I did – but found myself obsessing over one or two who were paid more, though I thought I was better.
Steve – you were well out of the relationship with Becky, and meeting the smug Brett shouldn’t change that one bit. But then, I shouldn’t have fretted about those b****** earning more than me. Human nature.
Fortunately, as fans we can switch allegiance pretty quickly. City will sign a striker – perhaps more than one – before the deadline. With the creative talent now at our disposal, he’ll likely become a new hero.
And we can cheer loudly every time McCormack misses a chance or trips over the ball. Actually, I’m not convinced Villa will give him the success he apparently craves. What a shame if it turns out sourly…
Meanwhile, Lafferty finally leaving Norwich? It’s a good bet.
Don Harold says
I live and work in the Midlands and Villa fans’ reaction to RM’s signing varies between the ones who think they’ve signed another Zlatan and the ones who think they’ve signed the next RVW. However, perhaps because they’re talking to me, they all try to pull out the ‘big club’ card as if the fact that they used to get big crowds and be pretty good means anything now. I have nothing against McCormack but I do think that he will find himself scoring 20+ goals in a team that proves itself to be pretty poor (as in most of his career).
I think our negotiators were right to stop at the limit which suited NCFC and if Villa valued the deal differently, that’s up to them. I’m really impressed we signed Pritchard and await news on who our No9 is going to be with baited breath. Our result, and those of AVFC and NUFC, at the weekend made me feel a whole lot better about everything!