This article is part of Football League World’s ‘FLW Greats’ series, this content strand is where we look back on a player’s individual season and discuss how impressive they were…
Elland Road has played host to an awful lot of attacking talent throughout history, with a fair few players showcasing that in the past decade, one of those being Ross McCormack.
Having arrived at Leeds United from Cardiff City in 2010, there wasn’t a great deal of expectation that the diminutive Scottish striker would be as prolific as he turned out to be.
The forward had a very slow start to life under Simon Grayson, joining the club following their promotion from League One. His first goal for the club came in the back end of his first season in April against Burnley, a tidy finish to help keep play-off hopes alive.
An impressive haul of 18 league goals and six assists in 2011/12 as a supporting striker Luciano Becchio increased McCormack’s stock, meaning he was linked with transfers away from Elland Road to the Premier League with both Blackburn Rovers and Wolves, but he remained in West Yorkshire and scooped up the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Player of the Season award.
The following season saw him sign a new contract to ward off any potential interest, but a lengthy injury layoff followed against his former club, Cardiff, meaning he was ruled out until around the Festive period. On his return, he helped the Whites to a stunning FA Cup shock against Tottenham Hotspur when he beat the Spurs defensive line to unleash a powerful left-footed strike past Brad Friedel, seeing the game end 2-1 to Leeds.
However, as interest continued to grow in the forward heading into the summer of 2013, Leeds held firm to see him sign another new deal for the 2013/14 campaign.
That season saw the peak of McCormack’s career where he became an indispensable player in Brian McDermott’s side and also donned the captain’s armband on a handful of occasions. The first game of the season saw his first goal, a poacher’s finish at home to Brighton and Hove Albion got the Whites off to the perfect start as Luke Murphy netted a late winner on his debut.
A Yorkshire derby at home to Sheffield Wednesday showed McCormack’s class when he took the ball far out from the Owls goal, to prod past the last defender and break through, slotting past Chris Kirkland.
A turbulent season on and off the pitch for Leeds saw McCormack revered as one of the only rays of hope in the squad, taking many games by the scruff of the neck and single-handedly keeping Leeds afloat with some stunning solo efforts.
Can you name the first goalscorer from Leeds’ last 16 seasons?
A run of 13 goals and four assists in 11 games between October and mid-December saw McCormack put in match-winning performances at home to Yeovil Town before a trip to Charlton Athletic saw him net all four goals in a 4-2 win. All four strikes showing his qualities with two near back-post finishes intertwined with an emphatic penalty and stunning free-kick.
January saw McCormack grab the headlines once again as interest grew in his signature, with Leeds continuing to stand firm. The transfer window saw one of the biggest moments take place at Elland Road, but not with player movement, but Massimo Cellino’s decision to sack McDermott out of the blue on deadline day, just 24 hours before Leeds were scheduled to face Huddersfield Town.
A baffling sequence of events saw McCormack speak live on Sky Sports News about the knee-jerk decision to relieve McDermott of his duties, speaking his mind in quite an eye-opening manner
The match was built up to have a very toxic atmosphere, with the fans heaping their backing behind McDermott and the opposite towards Cellino’s proposed ownership. An early goal from Town’s Danny Ward only worsened matters, but McCormack took centre-stage with a brilliant hattrick to help the Whites to a brilliant 5-1 win, with McDermott reinstated following the game.
Leeds fell to a number of defeats in the back end of the season and as their form nosedived, McCormack struggled to hit the same level of form. Despite the poor end to the season for Leeds, McCormack managed to take the mantle of top scorer in the Championship for the 2013/14 season.
Relegation for Fulham in the same season saw them looking to bolster their squad for a promotion push, and they need not look any further than the league’s top marksman, who they managed to secure from Leeds for the eye-watering reported fee of £12million.
His time at Fulham continued in the same manner at Craven Cottage with 17 goals and 21 in his first two seasons, but he never managed to hit the heights of his 2013/14 campaign at Leeds, heralded as one of the best by fans and was the best part of everything they did in the Championship that campaign.
A very bitter taste was left in the mouths of Leeds fans when he left for Fulham, but once the dust settled, they have been able to look back at his spell at Elland Road with fondness as he single-handedly won games and drove Leeds up the table, whilst being a leader that the team needed during tough times.