While Rangers’ Kenny Miller has always been recognised for his pace, his ability to drag defenders out of position, and his work-rate, doubts have always remained about his goal scoring record and his capabilities as a finisher. Miller’s career best return in terms of league goals is 19, achieved at Wolves in 2003 and 2005 (in 43 and 44 matches). At Celtic and at Derby he failed to reach double figures.
In the past Miller’s goals seemed to come in small bursts – perhaps 4 or 5 goals in 6 games, followed by nothing for a couple of months. Last season was easily Miller’s most prolific, finding the target 18 times in 33 SPL appearances. He has followed that up with 10 strikes already this term. Following Kris Boyd’s departure, Miller is now Rangers biggest goal threat, and looks more likely to do the business than new arrivals Beattie or Jelavic. He is without doubt playing the best football of his career, and now looks like a complete striker.
So what’s changed? Has Miller spent extra hours on the training ground since returning to Ibrox, or could his improvement be down to having in Walter Smith, a manager who knows how to get the best out of him? More likely is that with age and experience, Miller has found some added composure in front of goal – he’s always been a player capable of getting into goal scoring positions, but now he’s converting more of the chances that come his way.
Miller has always been able to find the net on the big occasion. At Wolves he scored a winner against Manchester United, at Celtic he was on target in Old Firm and Champions League games and at international level, Miller has struck against Italy and Germany. However, since returning to Ibrox, he has taken his game to a new level. Miller is consistently finding the net; he can no longer be viewed as a support striker, the perfect foil for a target man. Miller is now the main man, an all-round striker who, assuming he stays clear of injury should be looking at 25-30 goals in the SPL.
While Beattie and Jelavic should also contribute, Kenny Miller’s goals will decide if Rangers are league champions again. The same supporters who were dismayed by his return now know that they cannot do without him.