Kenny Miller adamant Scots are making progress
PROGRESS, as defined by the dictionary, is “forward movement towards a destination”. For many Scotland supporters and observers, it has become increasingly difficult to share Craig Levein’s view that progress is indeed what his team is making.
Saturday’s feckless 0-0 draw at home to Serbia was hardly an occasion filled with effective forward movement or which would convince the sceptics that the final destination under Levein’s guidance will be Brazil in the summer of 2014. Yet progress remains the buzz word in the Scotland camp, one repeated yesterday by Kenny Miller as he prepares to captain the side against Macedonia at Hampden tonight. But the veteran striker admits the time has come to provide tangible evidence of the improvement Levein insists Scotland have made.
“We can keep saying it all we want, but we know we have to start turning this progression we keep talking about into results,” said Miller. “We are totally, 100 per cent behind the manager. We believe in what he has done. I know we keep saying it, but we do believe we are making progress. Even on Saturday, as players we can see that. I’ve watched the game back and I feel that we are getting better. But what we also understand is that we need to show it.
“We’re still very optimistic about this campaign and if we do keep going the way we know we are going, then we’re going to be okay and hopefully we’ll be pushing towards the end of this group for qualification.”
Miller made his 61st appearance for Scotland on Saturday, drawing him level in the record books with Ally McCoist. Tonight, he will move into joint ninth place alongside Danny McGrain. The 32-year-old is keen to extend his international career as long as possible and does not believe his summer move to Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS has diminished his capacity to play at the highest level.
“It depends on how the legs are,” added Miller. “But I’ve still got that desire, that hole I want to fill, which is going to a major finals.
“It’s been five or six campaigns now that I’ve had a go at it. We’ve come close and not so close at times. If I can play my part in this campaign to qualify, it would be great. I wouldn’t say this is going to be my last campaign and I wouldn’t say I’m going to finish halfway through, because you just don’t know how you will feel. If I’m still performing, if I still feel good enough – and more importantly, if the manager feels I’m good enough – I’m more than happy to still be here.
“I had a wee chat with Craig Levein after the decision was made to move to Vancouver. He seemed happy enough with it. As long as I’m fit and well and still playing, it wasn’t going to have any hindrance on my national team duties. I play in a similar system at Vancouver, with one up.”
Miller, Scotland’s sixth-highest international scorer of all-time with 16 goals so far, never appeared likely to add to that tally as he ploughed his now familiar lone furrow up front on Saturday. He remains ambivalent about the calls for Levein to be more adventurous. “The manager will pick a team he feels will win the game,” shrugged Miller. “If he feels that means one up or two up, that will be the way he’ll play it. Personally, I think there are enough attacking options within the midfield and wider areas to compensate for one striker. Two up front is different as they are both at the top of the team which gives you a different set of options. The way we play I feel is more than attacking enough. I don’t think the manager will let anybody influence his decision. He’s the man at the helm, the man who’s going to have to make decisions and stand by them.
“All the lads in the dressing room are right behind him and whoever’s picked will be ready to go. Everyone said six points was a must from the first two games. But it wasn’t the case and it can’t be the case now. We need to win tomorrow night and if we have four points, we could be sitting in a position where we are joint top, second or third. It’s just important that we go and win the game. It’s too early to start assessing the group.
“If we can win against Macedonia, we’ll be pretty happy with four points from six. Fine, we would have loved six, but now we just have to make sure we get four.
“It will definitely be a cutthroat group. Every team, pretty much going into every game, will fancy their chances. Points will be dropped by every team. The so-called smaller teams will take points off the top teams, I’ve no doubts about that.
“If we can win tomorrow night, we’ll go into the two away games against Wales and Belgium next month looking at them as games we can win.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
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