How Newcastle and Sunderland dodged a bullet over Ross McCormack as ex-Leeds star faces uncertain future

Ross McCormack’s release by Aston Villa last night shows how much the striker’s stock has fallen – and why Newcastle United and Sunderland were lucky they didn’t sign him.

Tuesday, 4th June 2019, 10:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th June 2019, 11:21 am
Ross McCormack had loan spells at Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne City.
Ross McCormack had loan spells at Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne City.

Scotland international McCormack saw his inglorious spell at Villa come to an end as they paid off 32-year-old’s remaining year on his contract.

Once among the most feared strikers in the Championship, McCormack has attracted interest from both Tyne-Wear rivals.

Back in 2014, with Newcastle looking for a striker, they were heavily linked with McCormack. Then Leeds United owner Massimo Cellini claimed he had turned down a big bid, saying: “Newcastle made an offer for McCormack and I said no. He is happy to stay here and that made me proud.”

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Cellini may have been proud, but it seems McCormack wasn’t happy to stay at Leeds. Later that summer he handed in a transfer request and less than a week later signed for Fulham for £11million.

Thirty eight goals in 89 Championship appearances prompted a £12million move to Villa in 2016, but from there the striker’s career nosedived. He scored just three goals for the Villains, fell out with Steve Bruce over his fitness and missing training, and was loaned out to Nottingham Forest.

On August 2017 deadline day, Sunderland came knocking. Martin Bain, desperate for a striker, thought he had tied up a loan deal, only for it to fall through after Villa wanted more money for a player they were paying £2.3million a year, with the collapse famously showcased on the Netflix series.

McCormack himself later revealed: "I was literally at the training ground to sign and for money reasons - I think Aston Villa maybe wanted more than what Sunderland could pay - that was it and I went home."

He ended up in Australia with Melbourne City, scoring plenty but again being dropped over his attitude. Another A League spell with Central Coast Mariners was notable only for setting up Usain Bolt’s first goal as a pro footballer.

Another ill-fated loan spell at Motherwell, followed. No goals and four appearances showed how far his stock had fallen, culminating in Villa eventually paying him off yesterday. Now a free agent, no doubt clubs somewhere will gamble on him but it won’t be Newcastle or Sunderland!