Q. Who is the fastest A-League player to reach thirteen goals?
A. Nobody really cares
Officially Ross McCormack is the above answer to the question, but the relevance of which is almost zero. More relevant is his worth to Melbourne City and their tilt to both an A-League title and more importantly (for those at City Football Group) Asian Champions League qualification.
There is no doubting McCormack holds the key to City success, scoring 13 of the 21 (62%) goals scored by City this season and to be fair City’s only genuine threat to goal in the 16 games thus far. If you took McCormack’s goals away from Melbourne City this season the team would be languishing with Wellington on 11 points and the season would effectively be done and dusted.
The pending return of Bruno Fornaroli raises even more questions when you consider the former captain has missed the entire season after collecting the injury during the FFA Cup. The prolific goal scorer will most likely rejoin his City teammates before the end of the season with no match fitness, limited minutes playing under Warren Joyce and once again a very different squad that he took the field with in 2016/17
Fornaroli’s return will also throw a spanner in the works to the current injury replacement deal of McCormack’s, something I’m sure those at LaTrobe will be diligently looking at. McCormack, who is currently an Aston Villa player was only an injury replacement but has certainly found his feet in the A-League. Early doors McCormack seemed to struggle with the fitness level required to play in Australia during the warmer months but there was no doubting the Scotsman’s ability. A player who dominated at Championship level should always be a level above when playing in our top domestic competition. McCormack has finally brought some expertise with the dead ball and is a quality marksman; his 13 goals in 15 appearances has quickly made ‘Ross the Boss’ a crowd favourite at AAMI Park.
City is currently 13 points adrift from leaders Sydney FC and a 7 from a fast improving Newcastle Jets team. Whilst top of the table appears to be a bridge too far for the inconsistent team a finals campaign beckons for Warren Joyce’s men and they would be foolish to send McCormack back to England and to an Aston Villa team that is sitting in a playoff position and looking at a quick return to the Premier League.
You wouldn’t expect McCormack to return to Villa any time soon but some creative accounting and balancing the A-League salary cap tightrope will be required if Fornaroli returns to full fitness. This could see current marquee Marcin Budzinski return to Poland as he has effectively been a glorified spectator for the majority of the season although did manage to add to his YouTube highlight reel against the Central Coast Mariners to assist City salvage a point after a Harrison Delbridge tackle earned the wrath of the referee and opposition coach Paul Okon.
Without knowing the intricate details of how City can keep Ross McCormack the club must keep their pivotal goal scorer if they are to have some type of say in the remainder of the season. With dwindling crowds and much unrest amongst club supporters City must reward loyal fans and keep the journeyman Scot.
Without McCormack City may as well put the cue in the rack for season 2017/18 but with him they are one of the genuine contenders for the season. With the finals system setup in its current format clubs only need to string together a few wins at crucial times to bring home the silverware.
McCormack is a genuine match winner and dead ball specialist, and the biggest threat to the current Sydney FC dynasty.
Image: Herald SunGoogle+