Mark McGhee's first impression of Ross McCormack was not great. It was in 2007 when the former Newcastle United striker, who retains a great deal of affection from the St James’ Park crowd, became Motherwell manager.
He knew little of his new players, but thought there was trouble ahead when he saw how the club’s young striker went about his business.
McGhee once told me: “Ross has these luminous boots and I thought, ‘here we go’. I asked him what they were all about and he told me it was a sponsorship deal.
“I couldn’t believe it. There was this kid who had done nothing, running about with this boot deal like some big-time Charlie. I thought I’d have problems with him.”
McGhee’s initial fears were to prove misplaced.
McCormack started scoring goals for Motherwell. Then Cardiff City. And then for the last four years, Leeds United, who are ready to sell their captain, or – to put it another way – he can’t wait to get out of that crazy club.
And McGhee’s former side are interested. Now before we go on, it is difficult to see Newcastle parting with a few million, never mind the £8m Leeds would be looking to procure, for a 27-year-old. This ticks few boxes.
There is no real chance of a sell-on fee for a start, and the Scot has never played in the Premier League. It’s a lot of money to spend on a Championship player.
And it is our understanding that while McCormack is a player liked by Alan Pardew, the sums simply don’t add up.
This isn’t a criticism. There are too many examples of strikers who score goals for fun in the lower leagues, get their big move and then find the Premier League a step too far.
This is why Jordan Rhodes of Blackburn Rovers has so far not been snapped up, although that may happen this summer, and Newcastle could do worse than going for him.
But as someone who has watched the career of McCormack closely ever since he scored against Porto in 2005 for Rangers in a Champions League game, I believe Newcastle should take a deep breath and take what would be a chance on the Leeds captain.
He’s always had a swagger about him. Even as a teenager he looked the part.
When a player, particularly a centre-forward, makes a successful transition from Championship to Premier League, they tend to be a bit longer in the tooth. Rickie Lambert is an obvious example.
At 27, McCormack is at his peak. He scores lots of goals, different goals as well, and his football brain, not always a strong point, has greatly improved.
If Pardew could persuade Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley that this is a deal worth pursuing – although £8m does sound a lot – then Newcastle would get themselves a player.
Some reports this week suggested a deal was close to being done, but that is premature to say the least.
However, Newcastle fans should hope there is something in it.
As McGhee said: “I’m a big fan of Ross. People misunderstand his attitude because he’s got that ‘cheeky chappie’ thing about him.
“But he’s a great lad and takes it seriously. He’s the Leeds captain, which says something about him and his maturity.”