Kris Commons: Jason Cummings ‘not the brightest’ but will boost Rangers

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That’s the assessment offered by Kris Commons, the former Celtic attacking midfielder who spent a brief spell as a team-mate of Cummings when on loan at Hibs a year ago.

The 22-year-old striker, once memorably described by former Easter Road manager Terry Butcher as a cross between a genius and a clown, is back in Scottish football for the rest of this season after Rangers secured him on loan from Nottingham Forest with an option to buy him in the summer.

New Rangers loan signing Jason Cummings can lift the dressing room, says Kris Commons. Picture: Kirk O'Rourke/Rangers FC

New Rangers loan signing Jason Cummings can lift the dressing room, says Kris Commons. Picture: Kirk O'Rourke/Rangers FC

Cummings struggled to make an impact in the English Championship but Commons believes his switch to Ibrox can bring out the best in him.

In particular, Commons feels the Scotland international will relish the higher profile games the move offers him, prompting a return to the form which saw Cummings score eight goals in 11 appearances for Hibs against Rangers before he left last year.

“Jason is a character who does things without thinking but that’s probably the best thing about him,” said Commons.

“He doesn’t get too fazed by big games, which is maybe why he’s always done well in them for Hibs in the past. He is a bit up and down and I don’t know what his best position is – I can’t say he’s an out and out No 9.

“Jason seems like Leigh Griffiths was like eight or nine years ago in that you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get from him. It’s only because of the work Brendan Rodgers has done with Leigh that has propelled him to be No 9 for Celtic and Scotland.

“So Jason just needs a bit of guidance on his best position and on his attributes and to work on his weaknesses to make him a better player. At Forest, they didn’t seem to know where to play him to get the best out of him and that’s why he only scored once for them [in the Championship].

“He knows the kind of environment he is coming into at Rangers. I know it’s not gone down too well on social media with a few Hibs fans. But he’s trying to do the best for his own career and after one goal in 14 [league games] at Forest, something had to change.

“He needed to get his season going again and whether that is coming up here for six months, get going again and go back to Forest, or stay at Rangers, I don’t know. But it’s hard as a striker to play well in a team that is struggling and Forest are 15th in the Championship at the minute.

“It’s difficult to build momentum as a striker when you are not in your position and the team is not making a lot of chances. But under Graeme Murty at Rangers he will be around some people he knows. He will not be far from Edinburgh and hopefully those home comforts will help him put a lot more concentration into a game.”

While Rangers will hope for an immediate impact on the field from Cummings, he will also be an asset off the pitch according to Commons.

“He’s a funny guy, who is up for anything,” he added. “He certainly lifts the mood of the dressing room. Because he’s not the brightest, he amuses everyone. You could be having a bit of a nightmare day but because he is there, he lifts the place.

“I wasn’t at Hibs the day he was wrestling in his pants in the canteen but I saw it on social media! When I was sharing a changing room with him, he wasn’t too bad. I don’t know if me walking in there meant he tried to give off a more professional persona. But he was just a funny guy with a lot of ability. He just needed guidance and that’s where I thought Neil Lennon was good with him.

“But being 300 miles away from home and not playing every week in the English Championship is tough. Sometimes as a younger player you need people around you and I don’t know if Jason had that down there.”

Cummings is poised to make his debut for Rangers when they open their Scottish Cup campaign on Sunday with a fourth round tie at Highland League side Fraserburgh.

It is a competition which offers manager Murty a chance to press his claim for the job beyond the end of the season but Commons feels even claiming a piece of major silverware in May won’t solve the wider problems facing Rangers.

“Deep down they know they won’t win the league this season,” he added. “If they could win the cup, that would be a big coup.

“But I don’t see winning a cup will give them momentum. They need a long-term strategy. They tried to get a manager after seven weeks of chasing Derek McInnes and not getting him. They’ve had to give it to Murty because there is not anyone else. I don’t think they have the money or resources to get a big name like an Alan Pardew, when he was available. And the money they have invested in the squad –

£9.5 million – they have paid a lot of money in wages to a few foreign players. But they are now in a transition period where they will be looking to stop Celtic winning ten-in-a-row. No question. Whether they win a cup between now and that happening, stopping ten is the big thing for Rangers.

“They needed to do something in this transfer window and they’ve brought a few loans in. It’s funny how they’re going back to the British-based players, the ones who know about the league, Rangers, their rivalry with Celtic and the expectations of the club.

“Pedro Caixinha came in, signed all of those foreign players and gave them massive amounts of money and that certainly hasn’t paid off. Alfredo Morelos has done all right but I wouldn’t say he’s a natural goalscorer.

“Daniel Candeias started off slowly but has recently looked as though he might be a

player but when you look at Carlos Pena and big Bruno Alves, you can’t say that they’re worth the money that they’re getting.

“Hence they’re now going for tried and trusted British players who know a bit about it. There needs to be an understanding between Graeme Murty, the coaching staff and the players. I think the language barrier between the manager and some of the players played a big part earlier in the season.”

• Kris Commons was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.