You would be forgiven for thinking the phrase ‘annus horribilis’ was invented to sum up Ross McCormack’s 2017. From one of the most remarkable excuses for missing training to a forgettable loan spell at Nottingham Forest, the Scottish striker’s reputation took a battering in the last few months.
Therefore, reports in the Chronicle that Sunderland are interested in taking him off Aston Villa’s hands raise a few eyebrows. And that in itself is an indication of McCormack’s fall from grace. Joining Villa from Fulham for £12 million last summer, the 30-year-old managed a grand total of three goals in 20 Championship appearances during the first half of the season.
A temporary stint at Forest, interrupted by injures, yielded just one in seven.
Therefore, it is easy to portray Sunderland’s interest as risky business. The Black Cats’ problems with debts are well established and, despite a horror season and the fact Villa need to sell for Financial Fair Play regulations, McCormack may not come cheap.
They will want to recoup a healthy fraction of their £12 million outlay. And The Chronicle adds that wages could also be an issue.
However, if you ignore the last 12 months, McCormack is one of the most prolific goalscorers in the second tier of English football since the turn of the century. There’s a reason why he cost £12 million in the first place, netting 39 goals in two seasons at Fulham following a career-best, 28-goal 2013/14 season at Leeds United.
Sunderland manager Simon Grayson also knows McCormack well from his time at Elland Road and his current club are screaming out for a goal-scorer. On paper, there are few better than McCormack.
The question, however, is whether he can recapture his form of old. Because Sunderland, literally and metaphorically, can afford few mistakes this summer.