The Monday Profile: Kenny Miller
Seeing Kenny Miller pounce with alacrity on Rudy Gestede’s cut back at Upton Park yesterday, despite the fact that the pass was a little behind him, reminded me of the dangers of writing off seasoned strikers. A couple of weeks ago, I was told to don my tin hat by esteemed Oval Log blogger Stefan Bienkowski after suggesting that Miller was “a poor man’s Craig Bellamy” and if it’s unlikely that the Edinburgh born forward would ever attract the attentions of Manchester City or Liverpool, the snap unfairness of my assessment was cast into perspective in the East End rain.
Of course the aforementioned warning has been issued due to certain Glaswegian standpoints, but I had unthinkingly tweeted; basing my opinion on comparisons between Cardiff City 2010-11 and the new vintage. That Miller spent much of the afternoon bawling at fellow pint-sized front man Robert Earnshaw was by the by – on Gestede’s introduction to the fray, the balance immediately improved and that astute gaffer Malky Mackay deserved the freaky dancing of the Bluebirds’ fans that met the dramatic winner.
I first feared Miller in the old gold of Wolves and he was potent throughout his five year period at Molineux – a sure sign of reliability at the level he has now reattained. Not cheap at £3 million, he was nonetheless the star of a smash and grab play off final that saw the Black Countryites win a surprise victory over Sheffield United. That following campaign up top would always be tough and Miller suffered an injury hit nine months – although a famous winning goal against Manchester United helped his cup of cheer to run over.
The Scot flourished in particular under the cerebral but not always gutsy management of Glen Hoddle, but following two unsuccessful promotion bids, he decided to return north of Hadrian’s Wall, opting for green and white hoops and becoming the first player since Mo Johnston to turn out for both Auld Firm clubs. Despite the odd big night in the Champions League, he struggled a little at Parkhead and couldn’t resist another bash at the Premier League when Paul Jewell texted him in 2007. The less said about his sojourn at the worst performing team in the history of top flight football, the better however – Derby County had been promoted too early and were on a hiding to zero – a long range goal that saw off Newcastle in September proved to be a flimsy dawn and he was to seek out a third spell in Scotland’s biggest city.
At one point during that second spell with the Gers, Miller pronounced himself to be in the form of his career and it was hard to argue – his goals ratio during that second spell at Ibrox was considerably better than throughout his first and Alex McLeish will perhaps regret not bidding more to try and bring him to Birmingham City – instead, his chosen option was Bursaspor.
But the cosmopolitan lights of Ortaköy and Beyoğlu are a long dusty drive around the eastern shores of the Sea of Marmara from provincial Bursa and Miller suffered little more success than Darius Vassell in settling in Asia Minor’s future footballing superpower. Out of sight and out of mind, he retained the affections of one half of Glasgow but the novelty of a spell within the bosom of an alternative celtic nation should freshen him – Cardiff’s offer is rumoured to have trumped that of Rangers all ends up.
He’s a proven international striker of sorts too – netting 14 times and generally being one of the first names on the team sheet for a decade now. On yesterday’s evidence, he appears to have lost none of his impishness or ability to hit the bullseye. With fellow newcomers and fellow Scotsmen Don Cowie and Craig Conway also enjoying encouraging debuts at the Boleyn Ground, the ammunition should be there for Miller to plunder another hatful.