As the world awaits Rangers’ next move on the managerial front, it’s clear the club need to make a new start on building a team they believe is capable of catching Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership in the long term.
Whether or not that is an achievable feat remains to be seen, though the recruitment policy in play at Ibrox has been an issue for a while now, something that surely played a part in the departures of both Mark Warburton and Frank McParland. The latter, in charge of bringing players to Glasgow, failed to wholly convince this summer as a number of signings didn’t live up to expectations.
The Joey Barton saga has been well documented, Philippe Senderos looks like a complete liability and Jordan Rossiter is perennially suffering with injury problems. In fact, indicative of the Gers’ struggles in the transfer market, is the widely accepted notion that veteran striker Kenny Miller has been their best player this season.
Six league goals may not seem like the most prolific of returns for a man likely to start every week right now, though the 37-year-old has been the focal point of their attack in pretty much every aspect this term. Boasting a ridiculously vast knowledge of the dark arts of the SPFL, the former Scotland international is an excellent link between the lines and has also laid on five assists for his teammates.
Still, the ageing forward is out of contract in the summer and has revealed that the club he has played for over three different spells are yet to open talks over a new deal. With that in mind, perhaps top brass up the marble staircase are casting keen eyes over a new man to replace him and embark upon what appears to be a long-term project at Ibrox.
Miller is a hard man to replace. A vastly experienced, big game player who boasts the sort of swagger needed to deal with playing in front of large crowds for a club where expectation is high isn’t the sort of signing an SPFL side (with all due respect) are overly capable of pulling off these days.
However, one man who could be able to step into his boots is making a name for himself in the Scottish Championship, it seems. Hibernian forward Jason Cummings is one of Neil Lennon’s biggest assets at Easter Road, leading the line with the snarling swagger of a man who knows he is far too good for the Scottish second tier.
Socks down, slicked back hair and a penchant for scoring big goals in big games, the 21-year-old looks every inch a Scottish superstar in waiting. Clearly, there are attributes to his game that need working on, particularly his attitude in tougher games, though Cummings is certainly a character.
On his way to notching an impressive 21 goals in the 2014/15 campaign, the former Hearts youngster described his first touch as that of an ‘angel’ when he blasted two past Steve Simonsen as the Hibees romped to a 1-3 win away at Ibrox, while he followed that up with 25 goals the season after.
Cummings is a larger than life figure. In Edinburgh, particularly Leith, he’ll be revered as a superstar, having not only scored an impressive eight goals in two seasons against the Gers as well as his five goals in six capital derbies against Hearts, but also for his role in the famous Scottish Cup winning team.
Jason Cummings scoring and his lifting the cup celebration pic.twitter.com/rM4DcLZdFH
— Hibs Transfer News (@HFCTransferNews) February 23, 2017
The Louis Vuitton and Gucci flashing, car trashing, Hearts thrashing striker looks every inch a superstar footballer and his goals in big games are going some way to prove he’s capable of a higher level than the Scottish Championship. Speaking of his record against Rangers in particular, Cummings boasted that betting on him to score against the Glasgow giants was like ‘printing money’.
“I do say to everyone to get me on first goal [at the bookies]. It’s free money. The odds are getting slashed every week I’m played against Rangers because it’s like printing money!”
It’s not just his goals, nor even his swagger, that make him such an ideal replacement for Miller in the long run. Able to drop in between the lines, playing off a central striker like Grant Holt, Cummings has the ability to pick out a killer pass and set up a teammate, as he did so well in the recent 3-1 thumping of the Jambos under the floodlights at Easter Road.
Speaking as a Hibernian fan, the hope is Cummings stays with the club for another few years before getting his move to England, as Steven Fletcher and Kevin Harper did, rather than moving to either Celtic or Rangers. Still, with Miller having done so himself back in 2000, it’s hard to truly rule out when money talks.
17 years after Rangers bought Kenny Miller from Hibernian to huge success, a new man has emerged from that very same source who could replace him.