Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack could have been a problem Alex Neil didn’t need

Norwich City dodged a bullet in Ross McCormack.

Norwich City dodged a bullet in Ross McCormack. - Credit: PA

As excuses go it was pretty creative.

Most people just feign a sniffle but if you're in the alpha male world of professional football then that perhaps doesn't cut it.

Far better to say you couldn't get over a 4ft 6ins fence, isn't it?

Well, it is if you're Ross McCormack, who told Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce he would be unable to make training due to a malfunctioning gate at his home.

This is the same McCormack that Norwich came so close to signing in the summer until Villa gazumped the Canaries with a £13m offer along with a £40,000 per week contract.

From a City point of view – thank goodness they did.

Villa may have the financial clout to write off such a financial undertaking following Tony Xia's takeover, but judging from how City are operating in this window, they certainly don't.

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There's no telling how the signing of McCormack would have played out at Carrow Road. But it appears from some of the stories coming out this week that he is something of a divisive character.

When Fulham were linked with re-signing the 30-year-old their players warned manager Slavisa Jokanovic against it, according to one newspaper.

With how things have panned out this season for Alex Neil the last thing he would have wanted is a disruptive influence amongst a group of players, who have struggled with his demands at times this season.

It does, however, raise the issue over how much research was done on McCormack before Norwich were willing to shell out what would have been a club record fee for the Scotland international.

Carrying out your due diligence is a vital part of any signing process for clubs. You don't buy a house without having a damn good poke around first.

City's recruitment team is now being led by Ricky Martin and you would hope checks have been put in place to avoid bringing in someone who is going to upset an already rickety applecart.

Next time there might not be an Aston Villa to rescue City from themselves.

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