The most prolific striker in Hyundai A-League history is back for more.
Ross McCormack left quite an impression during his 17-match tenure for Melbourne City last Hyundai A-League season.
McCormack fired in 14 goals in 17 matches for Warren Joyce’s side: a goal every 86 minutes, and a peerless 0.8 goals per game for the enigmatic Glaswegian.
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Only ex-Sydney FC front man Bobo and former City teammate Bruno Fornaroli come close to matching McCormack’s Hyundai A-League goal scoring record.
And if the Scotsman can pick up where he left off last season, he could prove to be a game changing acquisition for the Central Coast Mariners - here's why.
Misfiring Mariners a story of goal scoring decline
The Mariners have lacked firepower more than any other Hyundai A-League club in recent years, but the fiery Scotsman might just be their salvation.
Outside of current Newcastle Jets striker Roy O’Donovan, Central Coast have struggled for a genuine goal scorer since the days of club legend Daniel McBreen.
McBreen finished as the Mariners top scorer with 19 in their 2012/13 Championship win but the following years have told a miserable story.
Bernie Ibini (six) and Matt Sim (five) accounted for the club’s top goal scoring returns in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 respectively.
And after O’Donovan’s return of 19 goals in 45 Mariners appearances in the two seasons following, the club’s profligacy hit a nadir in the 2017/18 campaign.
Misfiring Spanish recruit Asdrubal struggled to adapt to the Hyundai A-League and left with a pair of Hyundai A-League goals, while the Mariners’ Connor Pain and Blake Powell finished with four goals apiece.
Overall, Central Coast supplied a league lowest 3.3 shots on target per 90 minutes last season – by far the competition’s poorest (Perth Glory were ninth with 3.8 shots on target per 90.)
There are a range of factors for the Mariners’ struggles in recent years, but the club’s clear confidence problem in the final third is perhaps the single greatest issue that has kept them at the bottom of the Hyundai A-League pile.
An answer to Central Coast’s confidence problem
If the Mariners’ poise in the final third has been their primary downfall, McCormack’s arrival is a fine example of opposites attracting for the Gosford club - and a signing that has the potential to be a masterstroke.
Perhaps no other striker in the Hyundai A-League emanates assurance in front of goal than the bullish Scotsman, who managed two shots on target per 90 last season on his own. He should not only bring assurance of goals to Gosford but inspire attacking players around him.
A born and bred goalscorer, the 32-year-old is currently the English Championship’s most prolific striker with 120 goals (David Nugent, currently with Derby County is on 119).
Broad shouldered, hulking and technically supreme, McCormack proved different class in his 17-match tenure at Melbourne last season and was the fastest player in Hyundai A-League history to tally 13 goals.
He’s exceptional from the dead ball, as evidenced by half of his Melbourne City goals arriving from set pieces. McCormack dispatched four penalties and three free kicks last season, eventually getting off the mark from open play against the Mariners in round 7.
But despite an early reliance on the dead ball for goal scoring profit, McCormack is a player you’d back in any open play situation. The Scotsman can score goals with both feet, rifle shots away quickly and also has a deadly knack of getting on crosses at the back post.
Overall, the Mariners have yearned for a big personality player who is both impervious to pressure and a beacon of inspiration up front. If Mike Mulvey can wed his new attacking components together in pre-season, McCormack is undoubtedly a man capable of dragging Central Coast kicking and screaming back up the Hyundai A-League ladder.