Former Scottish international captain Kenny Miller is currently in Vancouver preparing for the Whitecaps’ 2014 Major League Soccer season that gets underway on March 8th.
If press reports are to be believed (and they seldom are) and things had gone a little bit differently in the transfer window, then we may have seen the 34 year old striker turning out for Rangers at Bayview this afternoon.
Miller has been constantly linked with a return to Ibrox from almost as soon as his first MLS season finished in 2012. It’s felt at times that if it’s a quiet Scottish sports news day or the papers need a Rangers story to fill some column inches, then Miller heading back to Ibrox is the go to story.
The result has been that Miller is constantly asked by Vancouver media about his future plans and as to whether there is any truth to the rumours. Naturally it’s a situation that he’s getting a bit sick of.
“I’ve been here (in Vancouver) 18 months and I don’t think a month has gone by without those questions being thrown at me. I don’t know what more I can actually do. If Carl wants to walk through and offer me a two year deal right now, I’ll sign it right here in front of you.”
Part of the reasons for the persistent rumours comes from the fact that Miller received a contract extension last season, but it was only for six months. It was a short extension that Miller describes as “not ideal” but was aimed to let the club walk away if their ageing Designated Player were to have a bad start to the new season but also to give the striker some motivation to perform is he wants to stay.
The Carl talked about above is new Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson and the former Welsh international is keen to keep him in MLS, but only if he is performing. Miller is one of the few players in the League with a salary over the $1 million mark. For that money, and in a salary cap league, there are expectations of what the team need from him in return.
“Obviously it has been made clear to me what I have to do to earn an extension so that’s what I’m going to do” Miller told me recently.
After a first season of struggles for Miller in MLS in 2012, where he only grabbed two goals in 13 appearances, he bounced back last year with a great start to the season and a couple of cracking goals on his way to scoring 8 goals in 21 games.
Unfortunately it was also a season of injuries and his international retirement came as he looked to prolong his club career. Miller missed a number of games due to a groin injury and then left Vancouver before the end of the season to get surgery on a knee injury that had also plagued him all year.
He spent the MLS offseason rehabbing and training with Rangers, which naturally led to more speculation as to a third stint at Ibrox, but Miller headed back to Vancouver in the third week of January and seemed ready to go in the Whitecaps’ preseason camp.
“It’s been a tough offseason, working away, rehabbing the knee, but it’s good to get back and get the first session under my belt.”
Unfortunately, after that first session he injured himself again and has been doing a month of light training. He eventually played some friendly minutes this week and looks back to being sharp.
Whether he will stay in Vancouver or end up back at Ibrox is still up in the air. Either way, it looks unlikely that we’ll see him on the pitch at Bayview any time soon.
[You can follow Vancouver Whitecaps and Kenny Miller all season long on AFTN Canada – aftn.ca]