Kenny Miller has had an extraordinary, if somewhat strange, Rangers career, one that is like no other. He’s played for the club in three spells with varying degrees of success, even spending time as a Celtic player in between.
There’s no doubting though that with close to 300 appearances to his name for the Ibrox club he is one of the players currently at the club that understand what it means to pull on a Rangers shirt completely. He gets it, he gets the fan’s mentality, he gets the need to win and the ambition required when you’re employed there.
Reason enough then for alarm bells to ring when he goes head-to-head with a manager under pressure, whose biggest critics argue has no understanding of what it means to be a Rangers manager. Pedro Caixinha has had a tough first six months as boss of the Ibrox side but no off-the-pitch drama has been quite as threatening to the Portuguese as his latest spat with Kenny Miller.
Miller was sensationally dropped to their U20s Development Side last weekend after a fall-out with Caixinha, leaving many to speculate whether problems run deep in the Rangers dressing room. Is it a sign the manager is losing control?
Away from the drama that has hit the headlines, the truth is that Kenny Miller might not have that much more to offer Rangers on the pitch anymore.
He has looked out of place with the rest of his Rangers teammates this season, not quite gelling with the summer arrivals that have breathed new life into Caixinha’s starting eleven. He made his name in football playing off the shoulder of the defensive line, running in behind and burying chances and that’s simply not what is being asked of him any more.
He has scored just three goals for the club since April and although he has been deployed in a deeper role and despite all his graft, he is hardly contributing to goals by other teammates either. He managed two assists against a demoralised Dunfermline in the League Cup, but his only other was against Motherwell at the start of August.
It’s far cry from his goalscoring exploits of seasons past. His peak season at Ibrox came in 2010/11 when he battered in 22 goals in 25 appearances before being sold halfway through the season to Bursaspor.
There are simply more threatening players available in the Rangers squad right now who can hold up the ball and bring teammates into the match more efficiently and with Alfredo Morelos the in-form striking sensation there is little room for the former Scotland international.
There’s no doubting that despite his waning playing career, Miller still holds massive influence within the Rangers squad from the senior side all the way down to the youth set-up which he helps coach. He is a leader and someone the rest look to for guidance.
It’s crucial then that Pedro Caixinha resolves whatever problems he is having with the striker and fast. The last thing the Rangers boss needs is insurrection within the dressing room, when the pressures outside of Rangers from fans and media is so strong right now.
There are times to show discipline and there other times to show maturity and compromise and in this scenario it is the latter path that Caixinha must follow.
Come the end of the season Kenny Miller’s playing contract is up, but with many tipping him to be a future first-team coach at the club and perhaps more beyond, he is the last person that should be challenged at Ibrox right now.
This could be a crucial moment in Caixinha’s reign in Glasgow and he must get his next steps spot on.