Miller: I didn’t have to tee up Barton move
Stalwart says former Burnley midfielder needed no convincing over move to Ibrox
KENNY MILLER teamed up with Joey Barton for a round of golf at Loch Lomond when the English midfielder came up to Scotland to hold talks with Rangers last month.
Yet, the striker accepts no credit for the former Manchester City, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers and Marseille player turning down the chance to play in the Barclays Premier League again next season with Burnley to sign for the Ibrox club.
Miller was struck by Barton’s enthusiasm for the move during the hours they spent treading the fairways at the exclusive Luss course and wasn’t surprised when he agreed a two-year deal shortly after.
Asked if he had played a part in the Ladbrokes Championship winners luring Barton to Glasgow, Miller replied: “I don’t think I needed to. He seemed so keen. He was asking a lot of questions. Not only about the football side either, but about the club in general, about the backroom staff, everything about the place. It was the first time I’d met him. He looks deeper: at what goes on at a club; how it’s run.
“He seemed really keen on all the small details but, for me, coming away that day I was quite confident it would get over the line. I’m absolutely delighted it did.”
Barton, who was released by Manchester City in 2007 following a training ground altercation and later spent time in prison for assault, has certainly hit the headlines since agreeing to move to Rangers, despite having not yet played for them.
He has declared that he will be the best player in Scotland next season, suggested new Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is overrated and claimed Scott Brown, who he will square up to in the Old Firm fixture this coming season, is an inferior player to him. His background and hugely controversial statements have led many to question whether he appreciates the intensity of the Celtic-Rangers rivalry and to suggest he could be a liability in the Glasgow derby match. Miller, though, has no such concerns.
“You can have ideas about people, but you don’t know them till you actually meet them,” he said. “For me, I’ll make my judgments on someone only when I meet them. To be honest I thought he was brand new.
“I just tried to let him know what we were about as a team. I told him about the way we play and about the ethos the manager’s got. It was a great day for it. A round of golf at Loch Lomond is always great. To cap it all, we played together and won the game.”
Miller added: “He’s a fantastic footballer. Look at the levels he’s played at. It’s been Premier League, Championship winners last year. He was in the French league with Marseille, which is a huge football club.
“He talked about the passion of the fans there as well. Some of the situations that went on with those fans were incredible. It was about trying to match it up with Old Firm atmospheres, how frantic games can be, how passionate the fans are. He’s played at a huge level. But, outwith that, the leadership, the experience he’s going to bring, will be key. He’s a big voice and a big character in a dressing room, which is what you need.
“A lot has been made of Broony and Joey going head to head. They are two good players, two guys who will be giving everything for their team. With the age he is at and the experience he has got, I have got absolutely no doubt he will handle it. We are talking about a player that has played at a top, top level all his days. He is coming up here and, yes, it is going to be a new experience playing in this team, this league and in an Old Firm game, but with the experience he has got and the level he has played at I am sure he will come up here and relish it.”
Brown and Barton traded insults again this week – with both players claiming the other supported their team. “I am a bit bored of it,” said Miller. “It is getting a bit old already. It is all tongue and cheek. [But] it is only good for the Scottish game.”
Miller has been heartened by the quality of all of the new arrivals and feels Rangers will be able to launch a serious challenge for the Premiership title in the new season. He especially welcomed the acquisition of Clint Hill, who at 38 is just older than him. “The positive is he’s older than me as well, so I’m not the oldest any more,” he said. “That was one of the remits for the gaffer. Seriously, though, to have played the level he has for as long as he has speaks volumes for him.
“We needed numbers, but it was the right numbers, the characters, the quality. There’s no doubt the manager has got exactly what we needed and there are still more to come.”
EASY CHOICE: Kenny Miller insists Joey Barton needed no convincing to sign