Kenny Miller, now playing along side the man he's trying to eat.
So, Kenny Miller leaves Rangers on Friday and then on Saturday afternoon Rangers succumb to a 1-0 defeat at Tynecastle, against a Hearts side that hasn’t lost in eleven games. You can feel it already can’t you? The word crisis is on everyone’s lips. It doesn’t take much anymore does it?
When a player who has scored 21 of your 44 goals in the league thus far leaves in January, it is always going to provoke speculation that the side he departs will be left with no cutting edge up front. Jim Traynor on BBC Radio Scotland on Saturday afternoon and Billy Dodds in his column for the Sunday Herald
suggested as much, but should Rangers’ fans fall into despair? After all, it’s not all doom and gloom.
Kenny has left. He has gone to pastures new in Turkey at Bursaspor, where he will live handsomely, pocketing £50,000 per week. But has he been put out to pasture? Rangers’ fans need to consider what it is they are losing here. A 31-year-old, who was reportedly on anything between £12,000 and £20,000-per-week (and Rangers could be doing with shaving either figure off the wage budget) and whose contract was up at the end of the season. £400,000 isn’t a disastrous sum to walk away with all things considered.
‘But what of the goals?’ they will ask? Well, it’s always going to be hard to replace a man who scores 21 league goals before the club have played 20 league games. There are options. You only need to watch the highlights of the game at Tynecastle on Saturday. Rangers started with Lafferty upfront, a player who is admittedly inconsistent and Steven Naismith, a player who many claim (Billy Dodds among them) plays better in midfield, supporting from deep. They didn’t create a goal, but they were incredibly effective for a long period and only superb goalkeeping from Marian Kello kept them out. Alongside Jamie Ness and Vladimir Weiss (who has looked fantastic of late) they created an attacking force which looked very promising and could compensate for Miller’s exit.
The future of Rangers' attack?
The 69th minute of that game saw the appearence of Nikica Jelavic, a player who has shown flashes of brilliance when he has made it onto the park. It is disappointing for the fans to have their club pay £4million for a man who has spent most of the season injured (particularly when another £1.5million was spent on James Beattie, who appears to be a write off), but if Jelavic is finally over his injury problems then fans can look to that hooked shot that rattled Kello’s crossbar as a sign that Jelavic can make an impact. He certainly appears to have the technique and finishing power to do so.
An aside to this whole argument is that Neil Lennon suggested that he would enjoy seeing the back of Kenny Miller as he ‘has scored important goals for them this season’. Lennon may well be buoyed by remembering that the last time Rangers lost a goal machine at this stage in the season, a certain Marco Negri, Celtic FC won the league, ending a Rangers quest for ten in a row and their own spell in footballing wilderness. Will things be the same this time round?
Fans will still point to a lack of strength in depth, and will hope that Walter Smith fulfils his promise to bring in a few players on loan to flesh out the squad. The money freed up by Miller’s departure should give Rangers the means to do this. If they don’t, they’ll either need John Fleck to speed up his development or Ally McCoist to polish off his boots.