Shaun Cummings, the last remnant of the Rodgers era, was sold to Millwall yesterday in a move that was rumoured for a few days.
I disapprove of the move.
Harsh beginnings, painful end
Shaun Cummings signed from Chelsea back in 2009 when Brendan Rodgers was moulding his side. Initially it looked like another one of our low-cost flops as he failed to adjust to the demands of Championship football—and Rodgers.
However, things started looking up for Cummings after a period of time out of the side and under McDermott made appearances that convinced fans he could do a job at this level. During the 2011/12 season the right back made over thirty appearances (some of which were at left back) and went on to make a handful in the Premier League too.
His attitude to improve and become a solid, stable full back was evident every time he stepped onto the pitch after his horror beginnings, and after starting the season as first choice left back under Adkins it seemed this could finally be his year to cement a position at the back with his handprint in it. Injury curtailed that and since then he's been out of the side.
The sale made financial sense
We all know Reading toeing the line of Financial Fair Play sanctions, and selling Cummings now makes a lot of sense financially. The figure of the sale is unconfirmed, but we can estimate it's anywhere between 50k and 300k considering his contract was up in the summer. As well as the transfer sum, his average Championship wage is off the books and it may free up space in the coffers and the squad to bring in a more natural left back and some genuine competition for Jordan Obita.
As well as that, Cummings was out of the squad and didn't look to be on the verge of breaking into the team, so for Hammond and company to get any reasonable figure for the 25 year old is a great deal in that sense.
The move also makes sense for Cummings himself. At his age he needs regular game time and Millwall will offer that. He also gets a move to London (his home city)—and I reckon many football players take location into consideration when judging their next move. Millwall may be in danger of relegation, but they have the ability to turn things around and stave away the dreaded drop down the leagues you'd think, so a drop in league also shouldn't be a fear.
More to offer going forwards
So why, exactly, do I oppose the sale? Unfortunately, in my eyes the cons of the move outweigh the pro.
Firstly, Cummings is relatively young and has potential to improve, whereas his rival back-up right back Stephen Kelly is six years his senior and will only get worse now he's the wrong side of 30. Sure, Kelly is more experienced but he's also (arguably) worse than Cummings. That point is up for debate, of course, but Cummings was certainly improving his abilities as a defender, whereas Kelly is yet to consistently impress in the blue and white hooped shirt.
You could argue that nobody stepped up to sign Stephen Kelly and you'd be right, but keeping Cummings would have more benefits in the long-term than an ageing Kelly. An experienced international right back? I'm sure you'd find suitors if you tried.
Secondly, financially this move makes sense insomuch as the club get a fee and wages off the books during a tight time for the club—but the player they have kept on as back up to Chris Gunter is on (we think) considerably higher wages than the departing man: Kelly, the player signed during desperate times in the Premier League under Zingarevich, we can assume is on pretty hefty wages considering his squad standing.
Thirdly, you could tell immediately that Cummings' move to Millwall has left a hole in the squad. Blackman, McCleary and Akpan (among others) were all quick to send their best to the popular Jamaican right back:
Sad to see this guy go but big up @s_cummings89 on the move. You deserve nothing but the best bro. ❤️— Garath McCleary (@gmccleary12) January 12, 2015
Wishing @s_cummings89 all the best on his move. ⚽️— Hope Akpan (@HopeAkpan) January 12, 2015
And finally, we no longer get to chant that chant, or laugh at the Reading FC site auto-correcting his name.
Never forget: pic.twitter.com/FIS5nfAPI8 #readingfc— Hoops (@RoyalHoops) January 12, 2015
So long, Cummings. I wish you hadn't left.