Leeds fans could be forgiven for having their hearts in their mouths when it emerged that Middleborough were showing heavy interest in their star striker Ross McCormack. You can imagine their horror when the Boro tabled not one, not two, but three bids for Scottish international frontman.
The positive thing for Leeds in the transfer saga was that McCormack was always adamant that should Leeds wish to offer him a reasonable new contract (not necessarily increasing his wages) he would want to stay at Elland Road. He stated ‘I’ve said all along that this club is where I want to be and where I want to play my football. My family are settled here. I love the place and I’m looking forward to the future’. Highly sought after words in the modern era of football to be fair. An actual admission of loyalty from a star player to a club, something which rarely comes to fruition these days. For this, Leeds fans should be more than thankful.
The 27 year old went on to sign a four year contract at Elland Road in a firm act from both player and club that they would not welcome any more bids to snatch him from the Yorkshire club’s hands. Even better for the Whites is the fact that McCormack has got off to a flyer at the start of the season with four goals in the embryonic stages of the season. However, this isn’t exactly a surprise, McCormack has proven himself to be an astute player at this level at the very least, in fact, he is probably unlucky to not be in the Premier League at this stage in his career as international and former club teammate Robert Snodgrass has.
McCormack really has been a gem for Leeds. In his career in Yorkshire he has hit 33 goals in 114 games but really this statistic masks his overall impact on the team. He is a player Leeds really needs to keep hold of if they are to have any chance of making it back to the promised land- The Premier League. The retention of McCormack does two things. It allows manager Brian McDermott to focus on strengthening other areas of the team- potentially as early as this month with the Football League window for a maximum 93 day loan period opening next week.
As ever, the Championship will be tight knit with very little separating the automatic promotion places from the play offs, and probably even less divergence between mid-table mediocrity and that coveted 6th place finish-sneaking into the play offs on the last day of the season. If clubs like Leeds can stay with the pack of so called ‘favourites’ and then go on some sort of death defying run of wins- they will be in a great position to return to the top flight come the end of the season. It all takes a bit of luck, good management but most importantly holding on to your best players.
The fact that McCormack will be a Leeds players for the next four years at least sends a psychological signal that hasn’t been at the forefront of Leeds’ reputation in recent years. Often a selling club, players like Bradley Johnson, Jonny Howson and Luciano Becchio have moved onto pastures new- incidentally the same club in Norwich. Yet it is this sort of team that could easily have snatched McCormack from his beloved Elland Road. The reality is that even though McCormack expressed a desire to stay, the Leeds hierarchy could have easily decided every player has a price and sold up.
2013-14 clearly marks a shift in the philosophy of Leeds football club which could pay off with a successful season. Keeping McCormack lifts the morale of all at the club none more so than the manager who can be rest assured that his best players won’t be sold. The level of financial backing and stability at Leeds is at an all-time high after too many years of instability. Expect McCormack to spearhead a charge towards the higher echelons of the Championship this season. Leeds should be commended for keeping him, not just by their own fans but by the wider footballing community.