Neil Lennon says he is still interested in signing suspended Rangers striker Kenny Miller this summer, insisting the current disciplinary proceedings would not put him off recruiting the Scotland international.
It is understood that Miller, who along with Lee Wallace is subject to an internal investigation, may have played his last game for the Ibrox club and would be free to move on in the close season, and while Lennon insists that no approach has yet been made, he hasn’t ruled out adding the veteran to his ranks prior to the next campaign.
“He is still a Rangers player,” said Lennon, whose men are still hoping to overtake Rangers in the chase to finish second in the Premiership. “I would assume he would be free at the end of the season and maybe that will be something I will look at but, at the minute, there is no real substance to it.
“I was interested in him at the start of the season but he decided to stay on and there was a slight chance again in January before the injury so maybe it is something I may pursue again in the summer but it is not at the top of my agenda at the minute.”
The Hibernian manager played alongside Miller for Celtic in 2006-07, before both men headed south to continue their careers, and says he finds it hard to believe that the 38-year-old would have over-stepped the mark and disrespected Rangers’ interim manager Graeme Murty in the wake of Rangers’ Scottish Cup semi-final humiliation against their Old Firm rivals on Sunday.
Lennon said: “I don’t know what he has supposedly done or what has been said. But sometimes you want a voice in the dressing room. He is hurting and that is why I think it has been blown out of proportion. Maybe it has been a build up of things. He has an opinion but he has never been a bad professional. He has never disrespected anyone that I have come across. People who have worked with him have always spoken very highly of him.”
News of the dressing room bust-up dominated the post-match Old Firm coverage with players also having stormed up the tunnel and shouted abuse when substituted.
Lennon turned the spotlight on the Ibrox club’s hierarchy, suggesting they may have played a bigger role than either Miller or Wallace in destabilising matters and undermining Murty with an ill-timed statement by chairman Dave King leaving his future hanging in the balance before the game.
In another tumultuous season in Govan, Murty was promoted from the development ranks in October, charged with holding the fort while the board sought a replacement for the sacked Pedro Caixinha. He was then given the job until the end of the season after a very public pursuit of Derek McInnes ended with the Aberdeen boss rebuffing Rangers’ advances. Any hopes of extending that reign were extinguished in a statement from King in the build-up to the Hampden semi-final.
In it, the chairman hinted at change, saying that “whoever is appointed must be able to meet the unique challenges of managing Rangers and ensuring immediate success. It is a priority that we commence next season with the best appointment we can make and that we move forward rapidly.”
Lennon believes that left Murty in an unenviable position, especially when frustrations flared.
“Yeah, thanks, thanks a million! It is up to them how they want to do their business but I certainly don’t think it was helpful to him or his staff.
“Players are entitled to their opinion after the game so long as there is a level of respect. I don’t know the ins and outs of what went on after the game on Sunday but it does seem to be a bit of a mountain out of a molehill, really. You have two experienced players there giving their opinions but the problem Graeme has is that for so long he has been an interim manager so when things are going well everyone is buying into it and saying ‘this is great’ but when things aren’t going well then the players can say ‘well, you’re not really the manager, you might not be the manager for much longer, so I can speak to you how I like’ and that is the position Graeme has found himself in. I think he has dealt with things pretty well but it has been unfair at times.”