Footballers are often derided for being self-centred, self-absorbed and looking out for No 1. When faced with coaching convulsions within their club, these traits can be of great benefit to both themselves and their clubs.
Kenny Miller is hardly a stranger to changes in footballing management at Ibrox. Interim boss Graeme Murty is the eighth man to pick the striker for a Rangers team across the 36-year-old’s three spells with the Govan club.
He isn’t devoting too much time to possible permanent replacements to Mark Warburton, but where Rangers are in the here and now, and where temporary manager Murty and the club need the heads of the players to be at.
“Morale is great,” Miller said of preparations for tomorrow’s assignment away to Dundee. “The manager [Warburton] pretty much brought everybody to the football club so there’s a lot of lads have a lot to thank him for. So there’s going to be people down, others not so down, but Graeme has come in and done a really good job of picking us up straight away.
“Let’s be honest, in football managers and players come and go and for us all – it has to be about that next game. We were fortunate that we had to get focussed on a really big Scottish Cup tie on the Sunday, which was less than 48 hours after the news broke.
“Now the next game is just as big because we need to get back to winning ways and get three points. Obviously we’ve fallen into third place at the moment so for me and the rest of the lads the focus is firmly on making sure we get second place back.
“I never thought we’d have got to this situation but I can’t comment on what’s gone on behind the scenes. We only see what has been reported too. We were surprised and shocked but that’s football. We’ve just got to pick ourselves up and affect what we can control – which is the performances on matchday, winning games and getting to the latter stages of the Scottish Cup. Our goals remain the same as they did before the manager left.”
It is also the fact that, with a team under pressure, the departure of a manager can act as a release for players. Events that have led to Murty taking charge may have been shambolic but the under-20s coach appears a man capable of getting players on side because he talks with erudition and sincerity. Miller is certainly right behind him, though the forward is himself honest enough to say he would be behind whatever man was placed in charge of the team.
“Having worked with him with the 20s for a while I know what Graeme’s about – and he’s more than capable of doing the job that he’s asked at the moment. I have no concerns there, he’s been great and it’s been a really positive week,” said Miller, who admitted his contract negotiations rightly go on the back burner, with the club having the more important matters of a manager and director of football to pursue.
“Off the back of last Friday night we had a day to get prepared for the Morton game and I’m sure he was thinking not much was going to change before it. He was going to come in and take care of training on the Saturday and hopefully get through to the next round, which we did.
“Then he could really get down to work this weekend and put his own stamp on the team, which he has done.
“I played against him a lot when he was at Reading and I was at Wolves. They were a right good outfit at that time, really organised under Alan Pardew and Graeme took on the captaincy.
“I remember he was a very steady player and he had four caps for Scotland as well so I shared a dressing room with him too. One of the games was a forgettable game for us, losing 4-0 in Wales. But he was always vocal, always a leader and those are good traits to have when you take over the position that he’s in at the moment.
“His communication skills has been really evident in the last four or five days. The message is there and it’s clear – not that it wasn’t before – but it can only help him put his stamp on the team.
“There are a few things that he wants to change that he’s seen or things that we need to improve on. So it’s been a really positive week considering it’s been a bit of a whirlwind after Friday night.”