Should Fulham countenance the sale of Ross McCormack?

by FPTaylor on June 28, 2016

I wanted to get this written and published prior to the potential sale of our Scottish striker to avoid the accusations of either being against the ‘mainstream’ for the sake of it or being a shade too ‘glass half full.’ You may not like this post, you may not agree with it but everything I am about to say about the possibly departing Ross McCormack are theories, and theories of which I believe as to why Fulham can be better off without him.

Before really getting started, I want to address the theory of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias, essentially, is the development of opinions that are moulded mostly thanks existing feelings or beliefs. What I ask from you, as readers, is to remove any bias or love you have towards Ross McCormack as I address points as to why the football club can (and I believe likely would) become better for the removal of Ross McCormack.

I want to avoid the use of confirmation bias early and broadcast my appreciation of the goals he has provided which have undoubtedly led to better results and likely the avoidance of becoming a League One football club. I’m not going to sit here and deny that he has positives – his goal record since joining is very good and he has the added benefit of a striker that also builds up a nice assist number too. Are his goal-scoring exploits out of this world? Not really, and that’s part of my argument. It’s not like Ross McCormack sits on 30 goals and 10 away from his nearest competitor; his job as a striker is largely to put the ball in the back of the net and whilst he does it well, does he do it at a level which makes selling at £12m unthinkable? I think not.

The £12m spent on Ross McCormack makes him the most expensive striker of players within 5 goals of his final tally last season – beyond Abel Hernandez (signed whilst Hull were a Premier League club); his nearest competition is Andre Gray who scored more at half the price. I’m generally not too keen on Ross’ style of play and how he forces us to attack; he has no athletic or physical qualities meaning he has to play in a strike pairing to be effective – which also means forcing others out of position, like Tom Cairney to the right if playing a 442 for example.

That takes me to my next point, Tom Cairney – our most creative player – would likely be even more influential if given runners and given the role in the team to create goal scoring opportunities and chipping in himself. If Ross McCormack cannot play as a lone striker – are we cutting off our nose to spite our face? If we accept that Ross McCormack’s goals are not out of this world, as evident by players around him in the final scoring charts (for much cheaper), would Cairney benefit more from a quicker striker – whose main priority is to score goals – for Cairney to thread balls through to? Since relegation, the thing our side has lacked has been width and pace – we now have an opportunity to address these issues under a top quality coach who had pace at his disposal as he took Watford to promotion.

I started this post over the weekend, slowly chipping away and trying to find the right wording whilst in the creative mind set, so the talk of Fulham making a big money move to sign Dwight Gayle came after the first few paragraphs were written. With what I’ve written thus far, I feel it right to say that Gayle is the perfect replacement. Despite largely being a bit part player since his move to Crystal Palace, Gayle has still showcased an ability to worry defenders with his pace and the capacity to score all types of goals. Dwight Gayle’s last (and only) stint in the Championship was a 6-month spell at Peterborough, joining from League Two and making the step up with ease, scoring 13 goals and claiming 6 assists to become the clubs’ top scorer despite relegation.

You may well read all of this and feel like I’m talking absolute nonsense, which is fine; and we’ll only ever know once (and if) it happens. I do believe that Ross McCormack, despite his goals, despite his impact and despite his help in his two years here, is a damaging player to have at the club. Not least his desperation to leave the football club in January as a so-called vice captain and key player on and off the pitch; and I haven’t even gone into detail to talk his lack of pressing from the front and making the opposition uncomfortable.

When I look at all of the evidence: his lack of athleticism, his lack of physical attributes, his goals being strong but not unreachable for somebody else, his inability to lead the line alone, his want for McCormack rather than Fulham and the potential for Fulham FC in a life post-McCormack, I see a bid of £12m absolutely acceptable at his age in a time of “thanks, but it’s not quite worked out” as we completely rebuild the playing staff with seven first teamers gone already and more likely to follow.

Theoretical Fulham team without Ross (from midfield forward):

  • Scott Parker and Thomas Delaney shielding the back four – rumours also link Fulham with the signing of Celtic midfielder Stefan Johansen.
  • Tom Cairney with the free role behind Dwight Gayle.
  • No rumours – but to help build the picture: Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Ikechi Anya to provide the width, pace, creativity and supportive firepower to Slavisa Jokanovic’s new black and white army.
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