Even as we ride the crest of the post-Charlton wave surely some of the more pragmatic amongst us must have even subconsciously asked the question “will we keep hold of Ross McCormack in January?”
Bat Crazy question? Surely McCormack’s just signed a new deal? Surely he’d want to stay – even if a suitor came knocking from the top flight? Right?
And to all intents that instinct would be right. But As Leeds United have slowly turned the corner after the international break, and indeed won four of their last six games, that old chestnut of the January transfer window will surely come to the fore once again.
It’s killed our season before; remember Howson’s departure to Norwich? Becchio’s, to erm Norwich. We could go on but wont for sanity’s sake, and of course down to the fact that we should at least try to enjoy some positivity for at least another 24 hours!
McCormack’s displays have become eye-catching to say the least. Birmingham, Yeovil and Charlton have showcased his talents as a striker possibly playing below his natural level. Ross’s detractors will point to a lackluster showing at Huddersfield but two things. 1. The entire team was dreadful that day (well except Sam Byram – and we’ll come on to him later) 2. Even Lionel Messi has an off day.
Goals are the most precious commodity in football. McCormack will indeed not be `Becchio Cheap’ in January, he has those contract years to run, but every player has his price. We’ve had to get used to that at Leeds, many many times..
Look at the foot of the Premier league, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Stoke, Fulham.. desperate for goals, and indeed desperate to stay up. a Player like McCormack is their first stop. Clearly a battler if playing in the Championship, and clearly someone with an ambition to play in the top flight, with too many snubs from his international boss (and we’d expect more from you as an ex-white Gordon!)
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The offers will almost certainly arrive if the current rich vein of form continues, and then it becomes a question of what the player wants to do? Becchio was forthright enough, he realised at 29 this may be his only chance – he took it. Speaking purely as a Leeds supporter myself, I’d like to think Leeds could fulfil his ambitions, if not this season – then next, and that he could be the player we build our promotion charge around. Moreover, selling McCormack and hoping (as Warnock did with Morison) that a replacement might slot right in and bang in the goals is a stupid gamble to take.
My other hope is that GFH dig their heels in and ignore the £££ signs, their Q3 results will be out soon so we may well see the state of their financial health, but our new owners have maintained their `long-termist’ view, namely players will be bought and sold with this in mind, not a quick buck. It was painful for most Leeds supporters to watch Howson and Snodgrass orchestrate Nahh-ridge’s comeback against West Ham – it could have been us there… So we can but hope.
Other prized assets are becoming more attractive by the day. Alex Mowatt, Sam Byram, Dom Poleon, Tom Lees, Rudy Austin. All of these players have risen in stock, we cannot pretend they will not attract attention, and we cannot ignore the fact that those players collectively may be worth in the region of £15m-£20m.. These are numbers we cannot ignore if we need to claw our way back into the top flight. But the real question surrounds a truly sustainable approach.
Would that money realistically `ll’ be available to spend? We have bills to pay, a season ticket cash cow, bled dry for the remainder of the season, rent to pay.. loans to repay. A truly long termist approach might seek to hold on to those players (or at least most of them) and wait for expensive contracts to run-down to the end of the season lightening our load, and freeing up cash to add to the squad.
One of our most astute signings this season has yet to be completed – Luke Dowling, our soon to be Chief Scout. Not only will he seek out new faces for us to acquire, he has previous when it comes to clearing down the wage bill. We can thank Luke for David Norris, Luke Varney, Jamie Ashdown and Jason Pearce as he was in charge of player acquisition and disposal at Portsmouth.
And oh how we need him now with a bloated midfield and players who have been on the transfer list for over a season. The refreshing of our squad is vital, and has been overdue for at least three seasons now. It has hamstrung our progress, and seen us miss out on players due to our already onerous commitments.
When Leeds were stuttering under Warnock we saw our best players leave. Under McDermott Leeds are playing better football and have the potential to go one better and get into the top six, so those players will be more attractive still.
So the questions abound.. Will McDermott sanction the sale of some of the family silver, in the hope that he can purchase enough quality to get us into the top six? Or will he stick to his guns, and go for promotion with what he has – and hope for some more backing from GFH?
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde – We can resist anything but Temptation..
Reporter – Matthew Brown-Bolton