Alex Miller on how Rangers ended Celtic's bid to win 10-In-A-Row - and can do it again next season


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AS a former director of scouting at English giants Liverpool, Alex Miller appreciates how important good summer recruitment is to a major club’s chances of future success.

So he was unsurprised when Rangers announced this week that Jak Alnwick, Jon Flanagan, Wes Foderingham, Andy Halliday, Jason Holt and Jordan Rossiter will all be moving on when their contracts expire.

Refreshing and strengthening the Ibrox squad in the coming weeks and months will be vital if they are to prevent Celtic from making history and completing 10-In-A-Row in the 2020/21 season.
Yet, Miller, who helped to end the Parkhead outfit’s record-breaking run of nine consecutive Scottish title victories back in 1975, feels his old employers will need more than a few decent acquisitions to prevail next term.
He believes that Steven Gerrard, a player he coached during the nine years that he spent working under both Gerrard Houllier and Rafa Benitez at Anfield, and his current charges must lay the foundations for a successful Ladbrokes Premiership campaign during lockdown.

Jock Wallace’s side, who finally ended the unprecedented winning streak enjoyed by Jock Stein’s legendary team in the league 45 years ago, certainly benefitted from rigorous preparation.
Nobody could ever have accused John Greig, who captained them to that momentous win, of needing carried by his team mates, but ex-defender Miller can recall how the punishing pre-season sessions overseen by Wallace required him to do just that.
“The first day’s training under Jock was the hardest of my life,” he said. “We warmed up for 15 minutes and then he hit us with interval running. We did that for half an hour without a rest. Then it was up onto the terracing at Ibrox. You had to lift another player on your back and take him up the steps.
“My training partner was Greigy, who was about four stone heavier than me. Some players, like big Derek Johnstone, just used to collapse. Some players threw up. Big Jock would scream at them: ‘You can be sick on your own time!’ It was a culture shock. It was like being in the SAS.”
Wallace’s militaristic approach, drilled into him during his National Service with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers on the streets of Northern Ireland and in the jungles of Malaya as a young man in the 1950s, had the desired effect in the 1974/75 season.
“The Rangers players at that time were all around the same age and on the same wavelength,” said Miller. “There were no prima donnas. That wouldn’t have been allowed. We were hard-working.
“The desire within each player that season was stopping our greatest rivals from creating history again. They had done that when they won Nine-In-A-Row and we didn’t want it to happen again. Players at Rangers and Celtic, and Liverpool and Man U as well, have to win. You must have that psyche, that mental attitude, at these clubs.
“We had won tough games and cup finals against Celtic over the years, but they had greater consistency and that is the main criteria for winning the title. At that time, they were very consistent. We had that to a certain degree, but not enough.
“But that season we were very consistent. We started our run very early. There was a belief it was going to be our year. We trained really well, we were organised, we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we understood who could give us an edge.
“Sometimes we were lucky to get a win, sometimes it wasn’t very pretty. But we managed to win the league with a 1-1 draw against Hibs (who finished runners-up) at Easter Road with four games still to play. Celtic were still a formidable team and Jock Stein was a fantastic manager. But it was our time.
“That was the catalyst for us to go and do other things. We won the treble in 1976, again in 1978 and could have done it again the following season had we not lost our final league game 4-2 at Parkhead.”
Miller was renowned for his dedication as a player and he is hopeful the likes of Scott Arfield, Borna Barisic, Steven Davis, Jermain Defoe, Alfredo Morelos and James Tavernier have used the shutdown wisely - by working hard on their physical fitness.
“I can’t understand the talk just now about players not being ready to play,” he said. “They have been resting for five or six weeks. It’s a disgrace if they’re not fit. They can go out and run, they can go out and train. So go and do that.

“As an athlete, you know what is required. You have to get yourself right. I did that all the time when I played. Ask any of my old team mates. When I came back for pre-season training I was always absolutely flying.
“Players at the very top level are athletes who are good with a ball. The guys who feature in the latter stages of the Champions League every year are all like that. There are no slow players because they would be exploited. I am sure the Rangers players have been using the time out of the game well and can benefit from the work they have done next season.”
Ross Wilson, the Rangers sporting director, and his scouting staff have continued to identify potential signing targets during the coronavirus pandemic and new recruits will be arriving after the transfer window opens next month.
But Miller, the former St Mirren, Hibs and Aberdeen manager and Scotland assistant who is, despite now being 70, still training every day on a static bike, reckons figuring out why their form once again nosedived after the January break and how to avoid that happening again will be every bit as important.
“Having money to spend on good players is obviously a big factor when it comes to winning the title,” he said. “But knowing Steven he won’t use that as an excuse for their failure.
“Rangers did really well in the first half of the season and went into the January break on the back of a good win over Celtic. He has to analyse what happened during the break because they dropped a level after they came back.
“There wasn’t the same consistency of performance either collectively as a team or individually as players. The players have to look at themselves and ask what level of performance they gave after the break. They have got to analyse that as players and as a team and make sure there is no repeat if they want to win the Premiership.”


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Alex Miller was a player who made up for not being the most skilful with sheer hard work and dedication.

Any Rangers player who started for us in 3 different decades with multiple medals in all 3 domestic competitions deserves respect.


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Was a teenager standing behind the goals right down the bottom against the cage. Stein ran towards me after he scored. Can see me in the footage. A few minutes before that my mate threw my crème egg over the fence and I climbed over to retrieve it. Polis threatened me with removal but let me off. Very nearly missed out on that brilliant memory. Hopefully will add a similar memory next season.

One of my favourite ever Rangers moments.