The Canadian club is in a playoff position despite its troubles in front of goal. The club hopes new designated player Kenny Miller is the solution.
The captain of the Scotland national team was unveiled Monday as the Vancouver Whitecaps’ newest designated player, just weeks after countryman Barry Robson officially joined the club as a DP.
“I think we’ve got more clean sheets than anyone in this league,” head coach Martin Rennie said during a press conference at BC Place on Monday. “But we aren’t scoring quite as many goals as we would like. We want to be more proactive with what we’re doing going forward, and when the opportunity came forward to sign Kenny Miller we really were excited to do it and jumped at the chance.”
Miller has bags of goals, and Rennie even went so far as to mention him in a sentence with the two best players in the world.
“He brings both the ability to stretch the opposition and score goals, but the ability to join in the attack as well,” Rennie said. “It was only one season ago he was in the top five in all of scoring for the whole of Europe, just behind [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo and people like that.”
Indeed, in 2010/11, Miller scored 21 goals for Rangers before moving to Turkish side Bursaspor and adding six more. That made him the sixth-highest scorer at club level across all European leagues that season.
Miller followed that up with a fairly tame season with Cardiff City, scoring 10 goals in 43 league matches – that performance seems to have warranted the Welsh club allowing him to leave for free with a year remaining on his deal – a bit reminiscent of FC Zurich’s decision to allow Eric Hassli to leave before joining the club just ahead of Vancouver’s first MLS season.
The player says the move to North America was one he pondered for a while.
“I’ve talked about it a lot with my agent and my family over the last few years,” Miller said. “It’s something I’ve definitely wanted to do at some point in my career and what a fantastic opportunity to come to a great city, a fantastic club who are having a really good season and are sitting in a fantastic position.”
Miller gained his reputation in the United Kingdom as a speedy striker, but despite his similar attributes to rookie Darren Mattocks, Rennie believes the pair can play together.
“I think they can really help each other,” Rennie said of the two. “Kenny has great experience. He’s played at the highest level. Right away I think he can teach and help Darren Mattocks with certain things – movements and runs and how to use his body and things like that.”
The Edinburgh native knows Whitecaps assistant coach Carl Robinson from his time with Wolverhampton Wanderers in England, and has played with Barry Robson at Celtic and with the Scottish national team, in addition to once playing with the club’s other assistant coach, Paul Ritchie.
“There’s a few friendly faces out here already,” Miller said. “I’ve played with both Carl Robinson and Paul Ritchie at some stage in my career. And obviously Barry Robson making the step a few months before me was always going to make it easier to settle.”
Rennie told Goal.com following the press conference that Miller’s addition wouldn’t necessarily make him play a 4-4-2, and even insisted that the club sometimes plays that formation without fans and media noticing.
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As for whether or not there are other moves in the works, Rennie wasn’t giving anything away but certainly didn’t shut the door.
“We’re really pleased with how our squad is,” Rennie said. “But we are always looking to see if there are ways to make it better and there are potential opportunities for us to do that. We’re always building the squad with the long term in mind, and the window is still open, and if the right opportunity came along we’d definitely look at it.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for Goal.com Canada.