Kenny Miller: strangest Hampden atmosphere I have played in
SCOTLAND captain Kenny Miller last night lamented the breakdown in relations between team and supporters at Hampden as their World Cup qualifying bid suffered a second successive early blow. On the night when his 17th international goal was only enough to salvage a point in the 1-1 draw with Macedonia, Miller observed he had never previously experienced such a disconnection between the stands and the pitch at the national stadium as the Tartan Army made their disaffection with manager Craig Levein clear throughout.
“There was definitely a different kind of atmosphere at Hampden tonight, for whatever reason,” said Miller. “It was a stranger atmosphere than I’ve ever played in at Hampden before.
“We normally have everyone pulling in the same direction. For whatever reason, it didn’t seem like that tonight. I’ve never played in a game before when the fans have not been behind us. I’m not having a go at the fans, because it was two home games built up to hopefully get six points. I can understand the frustration, but I think that can maybe be let known towards the end of a game and not during it, because it can transmit down to the pitch. Any other game, the fans are always there to the end.
“The Tartan Army have been superb in my time as an international footballer. Tonight was a different feeling. Whether it was them turning against the manager, against the team or whatever, it was definitely a different atmosphere.”
Miller, while accepting that Scotland’s performance last night was substandard, remained defiant in his backing for Levein as the man to lead the team to success. “I still believe the manager is the right man, that doesn’t change tonight because we’ve put in a poor performance,” added Miller. “He can put the team out on the pitch and we believe in everything he is doing, whether it is systems or personnel. He changed it tonight, freshened it up. We believe what we are doing is the right way to go. It’s up to us to go and do it. The manager can only do so much. It’s up to us to perform and, for some reason tonight, we severely underperformed. It was a poor start to the game. We got back into it and I felt we did pick up, although it probably took the goal to kick us into any kind of gear. When you get back into it just before half-time, you expect to kick on in the second half and put them under pressure. I felt we did put them under some pressure, but they hit us on the counter a lot. We never created that match-winning chance. If we knew what was wrong, we could have rectified it at some point during the match or at half-time. For some reason, we never got there.
“We keep talking about progress and, as I said before the game, we need to show it. With a performance like that tonight, you can understand the frustration of the fans. That was a poor performance, a poor result, and two points from the two home games is something we never thought we were going to come away with. We thought we would at least come away with three or four points. But we are just two points off the top of the group. If we go and beat Wales next month, then we are right back in the mix. But it is a poor start, there is no getting away from it. We can’t get too down about it or beat ourselves up. It’s done now. We have to find out why there was a slow tempo to our play, put it right and get some decent results. Every team in the group has dropped points already. It just means we are going to have to go away from home and get some better results. I thought we played better on Saturday than we did tonight, but the goal just never came against Serbia. We have seen they are a decent team with their result against Wales tonight.”
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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