Rangers move offers Cummings chance to rediscover scoring form
The 22-year-old endured a difficult few months at Nottingham Forest following his transfer from Hibs last summer, but a surprise return to Scottish football in the shape of a loan-move to Rangers presents the Scottish international with an opportunity for regular game-time, and the chance to rediscover his goal-scoring form. By Grant Barnes
As a Hibs fan, it was difficult not to take the news that Jason Cummings was signing for Rangers with a pinch of salt. From missing the penalty that confirmed relegation to the Championship, to writing himself into history with his part in the Scottish Cup win, Cummings’ time at Hibs was never without incident. A firm fan-favourite for his actions on and off the pitch, I can’t even hide how bitter I am to see him signing for Rangers. Mainly for the reason that I’m almost certain he’ll do well.
His record speaks for itself with 55 goals in the SPFL, the majority of those coming in his three years in the Championship, by the age of just 22. To be scoring so consistently at any level at that age is impressive, and is something Rangers have been lacking this season, aside from Alfredo Morelos. If Morelos keeps up his form and Cummings hits the ground running that leaves Rangers with two consistent strikers, something they’ve been sorely missing since returning to the top flight.
Both Morelos and Cummings won’t be short of service. Jamie Murphy is a player with proven quality, both north and south of the border. On his day Josh Windass can be a real threat, and James Tavernier’s quality of delivery is well documented – the defender boasts five assists this season, Windass with four. Cummings is a threat anywhere in the 18-yard box and with quality service the goals are sure to come if he can emulate the form he showed for Hibs.
Cummings has always been a player for the big occasion, and his record in the ‘big games’ shows that. Throughout his tenure at Hibs, on many occasions he proved to be the difference in crunch games. He seemed certain to score in nearly every Edinburgh Derby he would play in, and even scored eight goals himself against Rangers. Along with goals against Aberdeen, St Johnstone and Dundee United, Cummings has never been one to shy away from the big occasion. Even in his short spell at Forest he scored a double against Newcastle at St James’ Park. This hunger to perform in the big games will be key in Rangers’ second-half of the season as they look to consolidate second place and get as close to Celtic as they can.
It’s difficult to ignore Cummings’ off the field antics. He introduced himself to the Scottish footballing world with a double against Hamilton, his first a self-proclaimed “zing,” the result of opening a “tin of beans.” He even proclaimed he had the touch of an angel after a double at Ibrox. Of course, Cummings has matured as he’s progressed as a player, but he has his moments. Whether it’s spending training wrestling or bringing travel adapters to Cardiff, Cummings’ personality is one of his biggest draws, and it’s why he’s so infamous in Scotland.
When he was at Hibs his bravado no doubt improved spirits around the team. Neil Lennon even said: “There’s not enough personalities in the game and he’s all personality.” Having Cummings around the dressing room will help revitalise the Rangers squad, and the quicker he settles in, the quicker he starts scoring goals.
There is of course the risk that Cummings flops. He’s still learning and there are still aspects of his game that needs working on. His handball against Dundee United and failed panenka against the same club show there is still some naivety in his game. My biggest critique of him was that he was too reliant on his left foot with little work on his right, and often saw chances go by trying to work the ball onto his left-side. However, he is undoubtedly a talented player and his development every year at Hibs saw his all-round game improve massively from that game at Hamilton.
The most important thing for him now is to get consistent games under his belt and if he performs well at Rangers that’s what he’ll get, and that can only be good for Scotland in the future. No matter my personal views, the move makes sense for Cummings and Rangers, and if it works out it can revitalise both parties for years to come.