ALTHOUGH he has helped Wolves into the promised land of the English Premiership, Kenny Miller admits getting Rangers back into the top flight would mean more because of his emotional ties to the Ibrox club.
Miller, who has also played for Celtic in a long career, scored one of the goals that helped Wolves overcome the challenge of Sheffield United in the English Premiership play-off final 12 years ago.
“This is my club and it would mean the world to get them back there”Kenny Miller
But while that achievement meant the Molineux club secured a place back in the big time, as well as untold riches, there will be some added poignancy should Miller help Rangers return to the top flight in his third spell at the club.
It is likely that he will have to finally say goodbye to Ibrox in the summer and what better way to go than to have contributed to the last part of the journey back to the Premiership. According to Miller, this would even trump scoring the last goal in the 3-0 win over Sheffield United in 2003, in a game now commonly referred to as the richest match in world football.
“That was massive for us to go up,” said Miller, who recalled having to overcome the disappointment of missing out the previous season after being in the top two for the majority of the campaign. “We went into the play-offs in a bit of a downer that time,” he said. “But we went up the second season.
“But with Rangers it would be different because this is my club. I’ve fought hard to try to get back here in the last few years and it would mean the world to get them back there.
“And then it’s the next stage which is challenging for the league and get the glory nights back of winning leagues and trophies as well as the Champions League. I’ve been at Rangers three times now and I love the place – if I didn’t I wouldn’t have wanted to come back.
“When I left I missed the people. I love playing for the club and it would mean the world to me.”
Even though he admits Rangers need to “seriously rectify” their Palmerston Park form, Miller sought to accentuate the positives of having to return to Queen of the South’s ground this weekend for the first leg of their quarter-final play-off tie. It is a world away from the glitz and glamour of the Premiership play-off final in England.
A third-place finish in the Championship means Rangers have an extra play-off to negotiate in comparison to Hibernian, who now have an extended break before they return to action.
There is further peril in view of the identity of the opponents they must seek to overcome. While Rangers defeated the Dumfries club 4-2 in their first meeting of the season, they lost both their games on the artificial surface at Palmerston in emphatic fashion, going down 2-0 and then 3-0. The other clash to date this season finished in a draw.
But Miller is happy to gamble on emerging victorious from the quarter-final play-off because it means he and his team-mates will still be in prime condition to face Hibs, who are faced with a lengthy break, part of which will be spent in Spain, before returning to action.
“We wanted to finish as high up the league as possible but I’d much rather be playing games than sitting about or playing friendlies in the next 18 days as the second place team will be,” said Miller. “It might work in our favour but we’ve got two really tough games against Queen of the South.”
“We’ve found it tough at Palmerston this season and well beaten in the two games we’ve played. We’ll need to seriously rectify that before we go there on Saturday and make sure it doesn’t happen again. We want to go there and win the game and it would be great to take some kind of lead back to Ibrox. It’s important to remember what they’ve done to us in the two games and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We’ve played on enough of those pitches and the lads who have been here for the last two or three years through the journey have played on a lot of them,” he added.
“While it’s not grass, Palmerston isn’t the worst. Falkirk play on a pitch like that, and Alloa, so we’ve had enough experience of playing on those pitches so it’s no excuse. We just haven’t been up to speed in terms of our performance and we need to put that right.”
Along with many of his teammates, the 35-year-old striker is out of contract in a few weeks.
However, he is putting on hold all thoughts about his own future to concentrate on completing Rangers’ long march back to the Premiership.
“Getting the club back to where it belongs is a lot more important than our own futures,” said Miller. “Scottish football has had three years without Rangers and this season without Hearts and Hibs in the top flight.
“The best teams need to be in the top league but with Hibs and Hearts relegated last season it has taken that away. I’m sure soon enough, whether it’s this season or next season, all three will be back in the top flight.”