Monday, August 27, 2012

He may be plying his trade thousands of miles away from home, but Kenny Miller still has Scotland firmly in his sights and on his mind.

As the national team begin their latest World Cup qualifying campaign next Saturday, the 32 year old Scotland Captain still plans to play a key part in sending us to our first World Cup finals since France in 1998.

Miller is looking to add to his 60 international caps and 16 goals, and play an active role in Scotland’s World Cup qualifiers, but historically, when Scottish players make the move overseas, especially outside of Europe, they tend to get a little bit forgotten about by the Scotland manager.

A ten hour flight every few months could soon to start to take it’s toll on Miller, but for now he has no intention of stopping wearing the navy blue of Scotland, telling AFTN Canada that he "definitely" still wants to be involved with the national team:

"Obviously there will be conversations to be had with the manager with regards to the travel, which will be a lot more from what it would be from just going from down south.

"But I'm hoping to still play a part, a big part, in the World Cup campaign that's upcoming."

Has he spoken to Scotland boss Craig Levein about the move to Vancouver and how it might affect his future international career?

"I have had a conversation with him already and he's quite happy for me to play it however I want to play it."

And how he wants to play it is to continue to spearhead the Scotland attack.

This is great news for the Tartan Army on the one hand, but on the other, Miller's form has somewhat deserted him since making the move to Major League Soccer with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

He's played six games for his new team, starting the last three, and has only managed one shot on target. That shot did find it's way into the net in last weekend's 2-1 derby loss against Portland, but he has looked a shadow of the Kenny Miller we all know and love in a Scotland jersey.

Playing on unfamiliar turf pitches has been one factor, and Miller has struggled with how the ball runs on the surface, but he has admitted he is disappointed with his current form and he needs to snap out of his lull soon.

Kenny knows that this will be his last chance of playing in the World Cup, and with some of the up and coming striking talent maybe not quite ready to be the figureheads of the current campaign, and others like Steven Fletcher not likely to return to the international set up, there is a lot of pressure and expectation on the shoulders of Miller.

The future may lie with the likes of the impressive Jordan Rhodes, who Miller describes as "a goalscoring machine", but he needs a fit and fully firing Kenny Miller alongside him to bring him on.

A whole generation has grown up not knowing the joys of watching Scotland play in a World Cup and another tough group and campaign lies ahead.

Can Kenny Miller and the rest of the Scotland team do what their predecessors have failed to do in the last three campaigns? We'll get our first insight against Serbia next Saturday.

Monday, August 20, 2012

After a summer dominated by the Rangers saga, it still doesn’t really feel like we’re in a position to move forward with Scottish football.

As the story of the Ibrox incompetence unfolded with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster ride at Alton Towers, the biggest story as far as I was concerned was the unity amongst the fans throughout Scotland.

No matter where they were from, or what division they played in, they wanted justice to be seen to be shown.

"Sporting integrity" was one of the two big buzz phrases of the summer and after pressure from supporters, it was allowed to come to the fore.

Many clubs put their heads above the parapet and took a stand. I was glad to see that East Fife were one of them and making us proud.

Raith Rovers and Clyde led the way. The statements released by the Bully Wee deserve some kind of prize for the way they consistently dismantled the threats laid at the door of the Scottish League clubs.

I'm sure many of us never thought we'd be singing the praises of a Chairman of the Linolickers, but Turnbull Hutton was tremendous in galvanising the forces of all us "diddy teams".

The likes of Craig Burley and Gordon Strachan may have a go at us smaller clubs for not having large crowds, but they should first look far closer to home as to why clubs like East Fife have been destroyed by buses leaving locally and heading off to watch the Old Firm.

The other buzz word of course was "armageddon".

It's amazing that we're all still alive today to actually read this piece. If you believed those in power at the top of Scottish football you'd have to have thought that the Mayans were indeed right about the world ending in 2012.

It led to some fun "armageddon watch" pieces on various fan forums like AFTN, but it was always nonsense from the word go.

How none of the leading players in the SFA, SFL and SPL have lost their jobs over the whole debacle is still baffling.

We all need to try and move on now, however hard it feels to do. Fan power won the day with Sevco FC, but we need it to remain strong to force through the necessary changes in the Scottish game.

Rivalries and bitter sniping need to be solely kept to 3pm on a Saturday this season and we all need to remain united, vocal and work together to put the pressure on those at the top for proper League reconstruction from next season.

This four division nonsense has to go. Ideally I'd love to see us go back to just two divisions in Scotland, but would settle for three. We need a bigger top tier, but not one based on exclusion and greed. We need proper promotion and relegation at the top level of the game and a complete overhaul with the chance of Scottish League football at the bottom of it.

Our clubs still can't compete in Europe, our national team looks to only have a chance of appearing at the World Cup or Euros if we act as hosts and every season we're losing fans from the game, never to return. It's embarrassing.

Change is a must and it shouldn't be back off the table just because we didn't do what the bullies wanted.

We all need to make it happen. Whether you're a fan of East Fife, Queen of the South, Annan Athletic or St Mirren we need to unite to make it so.

You might read this and think what's the point, it will never happen. Well they were saying that just a few months ago about Rangers in Division Three.

For the first time in decades, the fans are wielding some real power and we need to build on that. The opportunities are there. We just need to grab them with both hands and act quickly before we all just go back into our usual malaise and live to regret it.

So when you get home after the game tonight, look into how you can do something about it for the good of the game we all love.

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