Kenny Miller: Aberdeen will challenge Celtic - for second
Kenny Miller is entitled to have a bit of a lump in his throat tomorrow when Rangers return to top-flight action for the first time in four years but he still had time for an acerbic retort to Celtic captain Scott Brown ahead of the new '¨Premiership season.
Although he has only played in each of the last two seasons, Miller trained with Rangers in periods of their journey through the Third and Second Division campaigns in the MLS off-season in his days as a Vancouver Whitecaps player.
Having had two previous spells with the club – the second spawned three successive titles – the 36-year-old is deeply immersed in what it means for Rangers to have reached this tangible moment.
However, Miller firmly believes that Rangers can make the ultimate return to the top division by lifting the trophy, especially if they can make an impressive start and win their opening fixtures.
Brown stated earlier this week that Aberdeen would run Celtic closest this season and Miller retorted: “He’s probably right... for second place!
“I don’t think Broony even got the right scores for the games against Aberdeen. He said they came to Parkhead and took points off them but they beat them twice. I think you have to take what Broony said with a pinch of salt.
“Let’s be honest about it. He knows from the Scottish Cup semi-final last year where we won on penalties but we dominated that game. We were worthy winners and if we didn’t win it in normal time it should have been extra time. He knows the challenge that we’re going to bring them this season.
“I think it’s crucial we start well, not just to make a statement that we are back in the top league and we are going to be competitive. It’s for the sake of this team building its confidence just like we did last year.
“We won 10, 11, 12, 13 games in a row and the belief within the group went through the roof.”
Rangers open up against Hamilton Academical at a sold-out Ibrox tomorrow and Miller knows that with Celtic opting to postpone their second fixture – against Partick Thistle – to play Inter Milan in the International Champions Cup competition, Rangers could go to Parkhead on 10 September with at least a three-point lead.
He said: “It’s something we have definitely looked at. There is an opportunity there to get your nose in front straight away.
“You try not to look too far ahead. It’s a huge game for us on Saturday and if we can get off to a good start we are looking to get off to then there is a real possibility we can go into that game ahead.
“It will be emotional on Saturday. I wasn’t here at any level lower than the Championship – although I was in here training over those two seasons before that as well.
“It was hard to see the club going into those fixtures which weren’t as glamorous as they could have been, but what happened, happened.
“We knew the steps it was going to take to get back and they are all part of the history now. It has been a long four years to be back in the top flight and all of those games have played their part in getting us back to where we are now.
“You can only face what is in front of you, it was outwith anyone’s control. The games had to be played, the wins had to be put on the board and the leagues had to be won – it was as simple as that.
“It obviously took us a year longer than we would have liked but it has all been part of the rebuilding process. We knew the steps it was going to take to get back and they are all part of the history now. It has been a long four years to be back in the top flight and getting us back to where we are.”
Manager Mark Warburton, meanwhile, has dismissed a report that he has offered a one-year contract to Swiss centre back Phillipe Senderos, formerly of Arsenal, Fulham and Aston Villa.