As I write this it’s 30 minutes before kick-off of the Hull City match, and Ross McCormack is not in the lineup.
The official statement from the club is that our leading striker is ill. I don’t doubt that. I’m sure he’s sick of two years of poor results, multiple coaches, and a defense with the integrity of a colander. Couple that illness with a sore back from carrying much of the team on his shoulders for two years, plus another feverish relegation battle, and you can’t blame the guy for feeling a little queasy. Hey, Ross, we get it – we’re sick and tired of it, too.
The Scotsman is 29 years old and not getting any younger, but he’s in truly fine form. When he transferred to Fulham from Leeds, I have to think he saw us as an immediate path to the Premiership. Sadly, that road was a dead end last year, and this year it’s so full of construction that it’s impassable. So he might see a transfer from SW6 to Middlesbrough as his best and last chance to realize that dream – assuming Boro don’t flame out like last year. Stranger things have happened.
On the other hand, the club would stand to earn a reported £9 million plus a middling striker from Boro in exchange for Ross. Depending upon what we theoretically paid for McCormick, that’s not a bad return for an aging striker who’s been with us for nearly two seasons. £9 million won’t balance the rather shocking books at Fulham Football Club (for more on that, please check out this excellent article at Viva El Fulham), but it could help when the June transfer window opens.
Then there’s our new head coach, Slaviša Jokanović. Can you imagine what’s going through the Serbian’s head right now? He’s only been back in London and in charge for a month, and already there’s a chance he’s losing his two top scorers. Not bad enough? Woodrow is out for another four weeks with his foot injury, and Matt Smith seems to be out of favor. Let’s agree not to talk about Mitroglou. Who does that leave? I guess I’m looking at you, Adam Taggart. Jokanović has repeatedly said we’re not letting any key players go in January, but as the new kid on the block, how much power does he really wield? We’ll see in about a week.
Lastly, of course, there are the fans. You know, you and me. The reactions to the potential departure of Ross have varied between "suicidal", to "whatever is worse than suicidal". I captured a few tweets yesterday that sum up the general sentiment:
I have to admit though, if Ross McCormack does leave he'll be the first player in years who's departure will make me sad. #FFC— Ad (@ABronsSmith) January 22, 2016
My own feeling is that if Ross leaves, it will make last year’s relegation battle pale in comparison. I doubt whomever we could get on a free transfer / loan will be that much better than any player we have waiting in the wings now. While our defense is beginning to gel, that would leave such a scoring vacuum up top that winning any but a few matches would be nigh impossible. Right now Ross is the boss, and without him we’re simply toothless.
But, we’ve all got to agree with him. This season has been pretty sickening to far.