TORONTO - A former central midfielder whose career was cut short by injury, Chris Cummins grew up supporting West Ham United and their elegant brand of soccer.
The newly named Toronto FC interim coach, who succeeds the departed John Carver, looks for similar entertainment from his MLS side, which currently tops the Eastern Conference standings with a 3-2-2 record.
''I like the lads to play,'' Cummins told a news conference Wednesday at BMO Field. ''There's going to be a freedom to play, to get the ball down (field), to look to pass the ball and put on a show as well as getting a result. Now that doesn't mean that we're going to be taking unnecessary risks, playing out from the back and causing ourselves problems.''
Cummins, 37, has shown a taste of his brand of soccer the last two games when he was directing traffic from the TFC sidelines. Carver was watching from high in the stands April 22 in the 1-0 win over Chivas USA. He resigned unexpectedly prior to Sunday's 1-0 win over Kansas City.
TFC played an attacking 4-3-3 formation, which at times resembled more of a 4-2-1-3 Sunday with Amado Guevara in the hole behind strikers Danny Dichio, Chad Barrett and Pablo Vitti.
The laidback Cummins also offers the team a change from the unbridled passion of Carver, who by the end of his tenure had a hard time shrugging off the bad calls and other irritations that can plague the man in charge.
Cummins, who was brought on by Carver in May 2008, said those won't bother him.
''I take things as they come,'' he said. ''I don't get too uptight when I don't need to. But I also set high standards and if things are not right, then I will jump on players at the right time.''
Those around the English native point to his leadership qualities, confidence and charisma.
Mo Johnston, who hired Carver as coach, said he likes what he sees in Cummins.
''You can see he has a little bit of arrogance, plus a little bit of air in terms of being cool in front of the camera, which is good. Especially in this media,'' said Johnston, now Toronto's managing director of soccer. ''The way he's conducted himself within the locker-room. The way he's handled the games. I think when you break it all down, he was the obvious choice.
''If I go out and bring someone else in here, then there's going to be a lot of changes. And that's not what we need because we have a very good young team.''
Johnston said if Cummins gets the job done, he will get to keep it.
''Well why not? Look, it doesn't matter if you've got Jose Mourinho on your side or you've got Chris Cummins. Because at the end of the day if you're winning games, your fans are happy.''
Said Cummins: ''I'm doing it until I get told not to do it.''
Cummins came from English League One side Luton Town, where he had worked with Carver. He began his coaching career with Watford.
''I'm only 37 but I've been in the professional game for about 16 years, I've worked with many, many managers,'' he said. ''Many that I thought were terrific and obviously a few that were not so good.''