OLBG Exclusive Interview with Kenny Miller

Updated: 68

OLBG speak to legendary Scottish footballer Kenny Miller about the Old Firm, Wolves, the Scotland national side and much more!

OLBG Exclusive Interview with Kenny Miller
Jake Ashton Senior News Editor

Jake is a Football and Entertainment betting expert, with a Man City season ticket and a deep knowledge of reality TV betting angles

We've spoken to Scotland's esteemed striker Kenny Miller about Rangers and Celtic's season so far as well as a look at some of his other former clubs and the Scottish National Team. Born on 23 December 1979, the 44 year old retired from football back in 2020 after an illustrious playing career.

From his remarkable goal-scoring record to his unwavering dedication to the game, Kenny Miller's impact on Scottish football is truly unparalleled. Miller played for 12 different teams across his 24-year career and is one of only five post-war players to have played for both Rangers and Celtic.

His experience across a range of clubs, as well as International football with 69 caps for Scotland, makes Miller the perfect man to speak to with the Old Firm looking to have an intense battle for the Scottish Premiership title once again this season.

Interview March 2024

Philippe Clement has really transformed Rangers since his arrival in Glasgow. What are the key differences between Clement and Beale to get a tune out of the squad and would you have liked to work with Clement? 

“Phillippe Clement came in at a difficult moment, there were a lot of players getting heavily criticised for their performances, and it was mainly the new summer signings. Most of them probably didn’t look like they could cut it at Rangers. Clement was appointed in October and needed to work with the group that he had in front of him until January before he could make any new additions. 

“As soon as he came in, he seemed to just get more out of the group than Michael Beale could. To be honest, the performances initially weren't that much better, but the results improved, he was getting more out of the players straight away. Clement was finding ways to pick up points.

“The consistency of the results has been there right through his reign, he's five months in now and as time has gone on, I think the team has just exploded with confidence. They inherited his belief in them, and the management skills he has demonstrated from the beginning have been exceptional. He appears to be a genuine character and quite a straight shooter. 

“Clement seemed to come in and just simplify the game for Rangers. They play some great stuff at times, but there's also quite a simple nature of the way they play, they do go direct, they get the ball forward quickly, and they try to play their football in the opponents half. This works well for them because they have some talented players at the top end of the pitch. 

“Players like Todd Cantwell and Tom Lawrence have great quality and Mohamed Diomande has been great since he signed in January. They've lost Abdallah Sima to a hamstring injury which is a shame because he was having a great season. 

“These types of players have made all the difference since Clement took over and as time has gone on, there's a belief and confidence which has grown within his team which you have been seeing on the pitch for a while now as his team are playing very well.

“There have been some great performances of late, so he's pretty much ticked all the boxes you’d want as a Rangers fan since he took over. The big thing as a Rangers manager is you need to win games against the so-called easier opposition, to make the big games mean something, and he's done that consistently throughout his reign.”

The title race looks like it will go to the wire. What’s your prediction for the upcoming Old Firm Derby, could Rangers go on and win the treble?

“There's already one in the bag, there are two more to play for, and they are both there for the taking. When you're sitting second with a game in hand and only one point behind Celtic, it’s a great place to be with nine games to go. 

“They have a semi-final against Hearts coming up in a few weeks, a team they’ve faced several times over the last few months. I see it as an advantage as Clement will know that team really well and what to expect from them, as long as the treble is achievable then there’s always a chance.  Since the manager came in, he has targeted everything, he hasn’t prioritised one competition above another, he has targeted everything and wants to win the lot. That's the mentality you have at Rangers, or Celtic for that matter. I think the upcoming Old Firm game will be crucial to the title race and the likely clash on cup final day.

“Rangers have played Hibernian a few times this season and they've made light work of it, as much as it should be one of the tougher games. Hibs are in a better place at the moment, but I still think Rangers will get past them comfortably before the Old Firm game. 

“Celtic play Livingston, who are struggling this season, so I think the Old Firm will decide who takes control of the title race. If Rangers play their game in hand and go into it with a two-point lead, from my point of view, a draw wouldn't be the worst result for Rangers. However, Clement is not going to be approaching it that way, he's going to want to win the game, which will put his team in a far stronger position. 

“I think the game is so tough to call because I still think Celtic have got really good players and you can never write them off. They've got a top manager, and they've got a group of good players who have achieved a lot over the last few years, and they have a great record in the Old Firm, as does Brendan Rodgers. So maybe they've just got that edge over Rangers, they’ll certainly believe that they do. 

“However, there's one thing for sure, Clement will be wanting to get that first Old Firm win on the board after losing his first one, but I know he’ll just approach it as he does every game. It's going to be a great game, especially if both teams navigate their way to it with no slip-ups. This Old Firm game will surely be decisive when it comes to deciding where the league title goes at the end of the season.”

James Tavernier has scored over 100 goals for Rangers - but was recently left out of an all-time Rangers XI by Ally McCoist. Would he make your all-time Rangers 11?

“I've seen Ally’s team, there are a few older players that are in it and rightly so. If you're talking about an all-time XI, I still think Ally needs to consider his numbers in terms of his goals and assists, and I played with James, he's a great lad. He's been an amazing player for Rangers as well as incredible value for money. 

“Mark Warburton bought him in 2015, and what he has delivered when it comes to goals and assists is incredible. He never misses a game either, he plays every single week. However, I think for him to be talked about in a Rangers all-time XI, I think he probably needs to put another few trophies in the cabinet before he can be talked about in that breath.

“Sandy Jardine never even got in; I think down to the formation that Ally chose. However, as a right back, I think there are a few guys that would probably just be ahead of him in terms of what they've achieved at the club, but who knows in a few years, he might even add a few more trophies to his cabinet in the next few months. 

How impressed have you been with Clements' first three signings; Fabio Silva, Mohamed Diomande and Oscar Cortes? How many signings do you think Rangers need in the summer to build on what’s been a brilliant season so far and are there any specific positions you think need particular focus?

“They needed strengthening in January and I think they did just that with the signings that came in despite looking like unknown quantities. Fabio Silva carries a big price tag on his head for a young man, and I don't think he hit the ground running immediately, but in the last three or four games when he’s been deployed off the left rather than through the middle as the number nine, that has suited him, he’s looked a lot more settled and more involved in the game. 

“He seems to have embraced what the club stands for and he looks like he’s enjoying himself on the pitch. However, I can't see Rangers buying Fabio permanently, even though I’m sure they would love to, because of the price tag that Wolves paid for him. I think that would be a tough signing for them. 

“I’m sure Diamonde will be made a permanent signing in the summer. He's been excellent, he scored a couple of great goals early on in his Rangers career. It’s something Rangers have lacked; a midfielder who can return goals regularly and he seems to be a player who can do just that. He's got the capability to shoot for distance, we’ve seen that twice already this season, and he gets himself into the box to get on the end of things as well. I think moving forward he could be a big player for Rangers and an exceptional signing. 

“Oscar Cortes is another player I would love to see made into a permanent signing as well, he has caught my eye, more so than most players this season. I think Rangers have been crying out for a pacey winger who can dribble, put defenders on the back foot, and create chances. I know he's not scored yet, but he looks hungry to get in the box, so I've no doubt he will bring goals from that area of the pitch eventually. 

“I've been excited by him as a signing, Rangers wingers have lots of good qualities, but I think Cortes brings a lot of these qualities into the one player. I've been really excited by him and the way he has been able to impact the team as a loan player. I think these three signings have been spectacular, they've made an impact on the team with the injuries that Rangers have had over the last few months. It has been important that these guys came in, stepped up to the plate and helped the team and there's no doubt they've done that.”

Was it a surprise to you to see Michael Beale’s reign at Sunderland only last a matter of months following his spell at Rangers?

“There's no doubt Michael Beale is a good coach. I have absolutely no doubt about that. 

“However, sometimes coaches can overthink things. They can try and maybe complicate the game. I think that’s what happened with Beale at Rangers and maybe even at Sunderland, but he is undoubtedly a great coach.”

Moving on to Celtic, what has gone wrong for Celtic over the last few months - from being in such a commanding title position to being second favourites to win it?

“Even at the start of the season, when Ange Postecoglou left, and Brendan Rodgers came in, they've swapped one top manager for another. However, they do have two vastly different personalities which can take some getting used to; they're completely different people and it just looks like Celtic have lost something amidst that change. 

“They've lost intensity and pace to their game, I think Rodgers is a top coach, I played against his team in his first spell, and it was a tough time for us as Rangers players. They were a really good team back then and a well-coached and disciplined team, but he's come back into a completely different set up, and a lot of these players were recruited by Ange.

“They probably enjoyed playing that high-voltage style of play that Ange operates with. They were all energy under him, very quick going forward and it was really exciting to watch. Brendan likes a bit more control and more patience to the play and it doesn't seem to suit this group of players. 

“However, I don’t solely blame the change in manager, I don't think their players have been playing at the same levels either. I think the players have got to take a certain responsibility for that. They've lost games that they should have gone on to win, and they've dropped points in games they should have closed out. It just seems like the players aren't quite at the level that they were under Ange over the last two seasons from the outside looking in. 

“I don’t like to point fingers at individuals, but I think I’m mainly looking at Kyogo to step up at the business end of the season. Kyogo had two incredible seasons where he scored unbelievable amounts of goals. I think he scored over 50 goals and then he's struggled a little bit and found himself out with the team at times this season. 

“If he was in the same vein of form as he was over the last few seasons, there's no way Brendan Rodgers could leave him out because he couldn’t stop scoring. This season he only has 10 league goals, he's well short of the kind of form he had last year. 

“Daizen Maeda has also been struggling; he doesn’t look like the type of player everyone knows he can be. Matt O'Reilly since January, maybe due to the transfer speculation, has not been quite at his level, he had an incredible first half of the season, scored a lot of goals, and was top of the assist charts as well. He might just be finding his way kind of back to form now which could be just in time, but he had a real drop-off just after the January transfer window shut.

“Rangers aren’t stuttering in form much or dropping many points, and any opportunity there was to close in on Celtic, they took it. I think Rangers deserve plenty of credit simply because they're putting Celtic under enormous pressure and making them earn the retention of the title.

“Over the last ten or twelve years they have perhaps had to cope with this kind of pressure an awful lot in terms of winning the league. Since Clement came in and with the results from the last few months, you can feel the momentum shifting ever so slightly now. Celtic have dropped a couple of points here and there and Rangers are getting that little bit closer, you can sense the pressure from the stands at Celtic.

“The fans were getting a little bit anxious about that gap getting smaller and smaller, and now Rangers can surpass Celtic if they win their game in hand. It’s going to be a really exciting end to the season and both teams are in the same situation; if they win all their games, they win the league. 

“Both teams have top players and top managers; Brendan seems pretty calm going into these last eight or nine games, he knows that there's an Old Firm game on the horizon and he has a wonderful record in those Old Firm games, there won’t be any panic in the Celtic camp just yet.”

SPL managers who venture to England from Celtic or Rangers have had mixed fortunes in recent times; how refreshing is it to see someone like Ange Postecoglou go to Tottenham and do so well? 

“It's been great to see him do well and achieve highly so soon because he was a breath of fresh air when he came to Celtic. Despite what wasn’t a great start, I think he lost three of his first six games, but he just never seemed to panic at all. 

“His level always stayed the same, his message always stayed the same. He was going to play the way he wanted to play again and again. He brought players in to play that way, and everyone saw the results, he won the double in his first season, and he did the treble in the second season. Ange had some incredible success and when you see players or managers from up in Scotland go to different leagues, it’s sad to lose them but you want to see them do well.

“I think it speaks volumes for him that his Tottenham team play the exact same way as his Celtic team did, they just have more quality, so it becomes a little bit quicker. Therefore, it becomes a little bit better, and the ball gets moved forward with pace and quality because of the higher level of players he now has at his disposal. That Spurs team are a joy to watch.  It’s nice to see him go down there because I think his success reflects well on the Scottish game.”

The big question now Kenny, who are you backing to win the title?

KM: “I fancy Rangers to win the title. I was at the Rangers vs Aberdeen game a few weeks ago and there was a real feel-good factor in the stadium that night. The game was 1-1 with 25 minutes to go. I've played in those situations, and you can feel the anxiety and you can feel the pressure coming on to you from the stands because they expect you to be winning at every stage of every game. 

“However, that night there was a real belief in the supporters and an air of confidence that the team would just go and get the job done in the end, which they did. I think that air of confidence feeds instead into the players and they've pretty much won every game under Philippe since he's taken over. 

“They’ve got the game in hand, which they will feel confident of winning and there are only nine games to go. It definitely makes you the favourites, but the Old Firm derby will be absolutely crucial. Celtic will have to attack Rangers as a draw should be enough to keep it in their own hands depending on how fixtures go between now and then, but Celtic will keep the pressure up.”

Rangers and Celtic look set to battle it out in the summer as well for the signature of Lawrence Shankland; what advice would you give him when it comes to his inevitable summer move?

“I'm not sure he won't move to either Rangers or Celtic, I think that the opportunity has been there for them to sign him. When you look at that kind of profile Rangers have been interested in lately, Lawrence probably doesn't fit that age profile. 

“Personally, if I was Rangers, I would sign him. I think it's great to have this ideology of signing younger players and developing them into great players, but it doesn't need to be every signing. I think you need to have guys that have been over the course and distance and that have been proven at this level. I wanted Rangers to sign Lawrence last summer, and I do think he would fit in really well with the squad they have. 

“There’s no doubt Rangers will be looking for a striker in the summer. But I’m not sure if Celtic will be with Adam Idah returning, but both clubs could easily be looking at a striker and they've got a guy right under the nose who's more than likely going to be the top scorer in the league this season and next. He's backed last season up with an even better campaign this year. He's got international goals, and he's only 28, these could be his prime years. 

“He's at a good, experienced age and there's definitely still a good few years in him. I think he would be a great signing for either Celtic or Rangers. However, if Kyogo is still at Celtic then I think he would be potentially the number one striker for Celtic, whereas Rangers will probably be looking for a number one striker, so it may be more suited for him to go there, 

“Wherever he goes, he needs to be the number one wherever he plays. He's scoring all these goals for Hearts, so he'd score even more for Rangers or Celtic. I know it doesn't quite work that way all the time, but Shankland has far more to his game than just his goals now. He's such a clever striker, he has great upper-body strength, even though he's not the biggest, he wins a lot in the air because of his strength and awareness. For me, he's a top all-around striker and he would be a really good signing for Rangers or Celtic.”

Moving on to Wolves; has Gary O’Neill surprised you with the job he’s done? And how key is it they build on their squad this summer, will they have to battle to keep players like Hwang, Cunha, and Pedro Neto?

“Wolves will have to battle to keep hold of their stars, when the big teams come calling, they find it hard to refuse sales because of the money and the transfer fees that are floating about now. 

“If they get market value, the true market value for their players, then they have to be happy as a club to develop them and sell them on. They’re doing a great job unearthing these players in the first place and bringing them in. Wolves give players an amazing platform to show the world that they're capable of at the highest level. 

“Realistically, Wolves deserve to get rewarded with nice transfer fees from larger clubs for finding players such as Hwang and Neto initially, or majorly developing a player like Cunha. However, I’m sure they wouldn’t want to lose them all at the same time. 

“Gary's done an amazing job at Wolves this season, I thought he was harshly treated by Bournemouth. However, he didn’t let it get him down and he jumped into the Wolves job and has them in ninth, sitting with a game in hand to go level with West Ham and above Brighton.

“After being tipped to maybe go down pre-season, they’ve got a realistic chance of achieving European football if they can finish the season off well. That would be an incredible achievement for a club like Wolves and a testament to the job he’s done there this year.

“You need to get the best out of your players consistently in the Premier League to even enter the European conversation and clearly, he's doing that and an overall excellent job. It's great to see them up there, I spent five years there and they are one of the first teams I look for to see the results, so it's great to see them doing well and I hope Gary can continue the good work.”

You spent a year in Cardiff, have they surprised you this season by forming a late playoff run?

“Cardiff had four really strong wins just before the game against Swansea and, in the Championship, when you have that kind of run, it is going to push you up probably towards a play-off spot. 

"However, that was a disappointing result against Swansea, not just the fact that it was a derby, but to lose that game when they were in great form and starting to build some momentum. They are now eight points behind Norwich with eight games to go, it might just be a bit too much for them to get in the playoffs this season. I only say this because I look at the teams that are in and around the playoffs now and I just think they're probably a bit stronger or have more points on the board.

“However, teams go on runs in that league. I've been in the Championship with teams that I thought were not particularly great, but we rode that momentum and that belief and went on winning runs. However, it's probably going to take that for Cardiff to make it in the playoffs. It might take six, or seven wins out of the last eight games for them to get there, which is a big ask but it’s definitely not impossible and however the season finishes, it’s something to build on for next year.“

What will be the most important aspects for Steve Clarke from the friendlies against Holland and Northern Ireland?

“Scotland have now gone five games without a win, and I think they have had a run of tough games against Spain and then friendlies against England and France. They have managed to get a couple of draws in that run, so it's not as if they're in bad form. I think when you take games against England and France, they are still so important because, like it or not, those are the kind of teams they are going to be facing and needing to beat to have success in the summer.  

“When we play Germany in that opening game in the Euros, they’re a great team with quality players like England, France, and Holland, so we must be prepared. These upcoming friendlies will be a good test for them, and I'm intrigued to see if the team have learned from those bigger games they have played recently. 

“I thought we were excellent against Spain, home and away, despite away from home, but I thought they were still competitive. However, it wasn't like that in the games against England and France. 

“I think those two teams were a level up, even from Spain. There'll be a lot of lessons for the team to take away from those fixtures. When you're going into playing these top international teams, you must defend well, you must be organised, you have to be compact, and you can't be giving too many chances away as these teams capitalise. That being said, I do think that is one of our strengths, the lads work incredibly hard, and they've grown together as a group over these last four or five years under Steve Clarke, and they're in a good place ahead of the Euros.

“It'll be a tough game against the Netherlands away from home, even though it's a friendly, but it will be a real test which they do need to prepare for the Euros. Are we going to be able to kind of compete at that level? I believe we can, I genuinely do, I think we have a wonderful group of players. There's a good spirit about the team and there's a good manager who has found a way to get his players playing to their strengths and fit them in. There is great competition for places and a lot of useful pieces to fit into the puzzle to allow Scotland to go and compete as a team in these friendlies and in the summer. 

“I’m looking forward to both games; if Scotland could get any kind of result against Holland I think that would be a positive for the group. As for the Northern Ireland game, then I think that's a game that we need to be looking to get back to winning ways and rebuilding the momentum that we’ve had over the last few years.

“There will still be a few places up for grabs as well in the squad for the Euros, and there might be players that can make an impression and catch Steve’s eye. So, there's still a lot to play for, probably for a few players, I imagine 95% of his squad will be now set in his head, barring any injuries. I think he'll have 20/21 of those squad members already in his head to be on that plane to go to Germany. There might be one or two available for the taking and it’s up to these guys to go and grab that opportunity.” 

Do Scotland have enough talented young players coming through the ranks in order to progress to the next level? Which young Scottish players have impressed you the most?

“Eventually there'll be a transition going on away from the mainstays in this current squad such as John McGinn, Andrew Robertson, Callum McGregor and the guys that have been there and done it for Scotland for several years. We have players like Billy Gilmour who's still a young man, a very special player, and the likes of Aaron Hickey and Nathan Patterson, who have both been great in Scotland shirts and you can’t fault them one bit. 

“Lewis Ferguson is playing at a high level and is captain of Bologna in Serie A. There are a lot of younger players who are actually in the squad at this moment in time but are also setting up the team for a bright future. These players will be the go-to guys for Clarke in the near future. 

“I think that if Ben Doak at Liverpool had not been injured, he might have been one that could have been the surprise package to get on the plane to Germany. I’m sure he would’ve got game time amongst Liverpool’s injuries or gone out on loan, maybe in January, and he could’ve pushed to be in the squad. 

“However, I think the fact that he's maybe been injured, it probably ends that hope that he could make the squad this summer, but he's a young man with a massive future ahead of him. There's no doubt he'll make many appearances for Scotland over the years, but he was just one that I thought with his pace, could’ve threatened some teams as a bit of a wildcard pick.

“These younger players will then become the senior players in the next three, or four seasons and there will be another wave of younger players coming through all being well. The future is bright for Scottish football. It'll be disappointing when this current team does come to an end because I think they've grown so much together, but these players now have real international experience that could make all the difference this summer. 

“Craig Gordon is back in the squad, which is a positive; he has 74 caps and the younger ‘keepers can learn from him. Andy, John, Scott, and Callum have hundreds of international appearances between them, and they’ve achieved so much as a group. The group has not really changed that much over the last three or four seasons, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they perform in the Euros. We never did ourselves justice in the last Euros, it almost felt like qualifying for a major tournament was enough, when they must progress as a team. They would have learnt a lot from that experience, they'll be in a better place going into this Euros. 

“In terms of facing Germany, Hungary and Switzerland. I think there's a real opportunity there that this team can take that next step, which no Scotland team has ever made, the Scotland fans should be excited and believe in these players.”

As a former striker yourself, who would you like to see up top in the Euros? Clarke has experimented with Jacob Brown, Lawrence Shankland, Lyndon Dykes, and Che Adams while McTominay can also play as a false 9. 

“Lyndon Dykes has been the one that seems to have had the jersey often. We’ve seen games where Dykes and Che Adams have been deployed together, which worked at times, but I don't think Clarke will be doing that in the Euros. I think it will be one striker with a midfielder playing high and getting up with him, somebody like John McGinn, Ryan Christie, Lewis Ferguson or Stuart Armstrong playing in a supporting role.

“I understand why Clarke has opted for Dykes as the main striker in the past, he is a big strong player as well as being mobile and quick, which is rare. Lyndon works very hard, and he's come up with some big goals in his Scotland career, and I believe Clarke will give him the nod come 14th June. I think Lawrence Shankland is the best all-around striking option that Scotland has. Clarke has experimented a lot, but I just think Shankland, with the couple of seasons he’s had at Hearts and the goals that he’s scored, should be the first choice and confident enough to score goals for Scotland. 

“I've watched Lawrence a lot. I played against him back in 2019, it was my last year playing and I was at Partick Thistle, and he was at Dundee United at the time. He’s a completely different player when you compare him to that player now, his game has developed so much. He's a clever footballer with great awareness. There are not many strikers I've seen that have the kind of calmness in their head to fight off centre-backs but still have the calmness in their mind to bring the ball down or lay off to the support and runners. 

“I think it’s really hard for Clarke to ignore him now. Even when he came on against Georgia, he got the last-minute equaliser. I was very surprised to see him not start the next game. The only reason I can think why he isn’t being picked to start is Clarke wants the work rate of one of the other options, but I think Lawrence’s all-round game is worth more than that to the team now. 

“Shankland is the best Scotland has and should be playing in the friendlies and the summer, he's the guy that if a chance drops, you want him there because they don’t come along very often in international football. Lawrence has shown me a variety of goals that he scored this season, that he is the guy for big moments. He's got international goals, he has bucket loads of goals for Hearts domestically, he’s scored in Europe, he’s scored against Rangers, he’s scored against Celtic. He scores in big games and deserves a proper chance from the start of games. 

“It's a hard but great problem for Steve to have. He's going to have loads of different striking options that can all bring different things to the team, it’s up to him to decide what they need in the summer.”

No Comments

There are no comments here. Be the first to comment...

Keep Reading

By using this site you confirm you are 18+ and consent to our use of cookies and processing of personal data as set out in our Privacy Policy
Got it!