A signing which has excited Portsmouth fans - now Rangers new boy has to match growing anticipation
On Friday morning I could’ve just about told you Ross McCrorie was a Rangers player.
But personal knowledge of the young Scottish midfielder amounted to little more than the club who paid his wages and a vague idea of who he was from popping up on highlights and Sky Sports News every now and again.
It’s a position, no doubt, which was echoed by the vast majority of Pompey fans until a hunger for every shred of information surrounding the 21-year-old was fuelled by the news of their team’s interest in the player.
To be honest, it’s not a lot different for a sports journalist.
Once Thursday night’s reports from north of the border of a season-long loan which were firmed up at this end, there was a thirst to know everything about McCrorie as quickly as possible. And as it was quenched it tasted pretty good.
The wall-to-wall positivity melding with the disappointment from Rangers fans at the player’s exit, made for a heady mix for a Fratton faithful in search of reasons to get excited about the new campaign.
Throw in the apparent fact McCrorie is in possession of the kind of forceful attributes Pompey’s midfield still felt a little thin on and a major promotion rival’s late overtures were ignored, and it’s easy to see why Friday night’s official confirmation of the deal has been received so enthusiastically.
Kenny Jackett could breathe a sigh of relief there were no late hiccups as Sunderland’s last-ditch charge was fended off, but the fact they came on so strong was another endorsement of the Scotland under-21 international’s attributes for those not in possession of an encyclopedic knowledge of the Scottish Premiership.
Plenty of the Gers supporters’ consternation centred on the much-talked about ‘option-to-buy’, which was reported as part of the deal.
While details were sketchy, the fact boss Steven Gerrard has been full of such wholesome praise for the player was at odds with the clause and caused varied reactions from head scratching to hair being torn out by fans of his parent club.
The player himself briefly confirmed presence of such details in the agreement when speaking to The News after his unveiling, before it became clear it’s perhaps more accurately a first refusal should McCrorie move on and no fee had been agreed.
Gerrard put the issue to bed – for now – on Sunday night with his assertion he views the move as a development loan for the player.
The other glaring question remains unanswered at present as Pompey respect Rangers’ request to not speak about the details of the deal, meaning they could not state if there is the possibility of a January recall for the player.
It’s an issue, of course, given how Ben Thompson’s return to Millwall so hurt promotion ambitions last term. Looking at how Rangers appear to still value McCrorie we can only speculate on the details at present from this end.
To get wrapped up in the intricacies of the deal is to lose sight of the quality of the piece of business, however. It's all secondary to the fact Pompey have landed a player who significantly bolsters options in the middle of the park.
Seeing as the man who emerged as a defender could’ve stayed put and repeated his 30 appearances last season, it’s pretty clear he’s not moving across Great Britain to play second fiddle.
And Jackett, of course, needs players who are going to make a big difference in turning a hard-luck story into a celebratory chapter in Pompey’s journey back to whence they came.
McCrorie appears to have all the attributes needed to do just that.
This, after all, is a player who was tipped to be one of his nation’s best footballers of all time after his breakthrough, has faced the white-hot heat of the Old Firm derby and turned out in front of 50,000 every other week through the formative stages of his career.
This is a footballer who it’s suggested will bring a forceful presence through his 6ft 3in frame and will to win, while adding a layer of steel to the middle of the park.
On the eve of the player’s arrival Jackett spoke of his willingness, despite being burnt last season, to use the loan market again for additions he believed could really up the quality of the options at his disposal.
He was clearly referencing a player who his club’s supporters now have big hopes for ahead of the new season.