Dubai: Ex-Rangers hero Charlie Miller believes his old teammate Derek McInnes, the manager of Aberdeen, is the man the ailing Glasgow giants should appoint in the bid to revive former glories.
Miller and McInnes were both midfielders in the legendary Rangers nine-in-a-row squad in the late 1990s that equalled rivals Celtic’s consecutive haul of nine league championships from the 60s and 70s.
The Ibrox club, however, are still recovering from their demotion down the divisions to the lowest tier of Scottish football in 2012 after falling into administration and are 27 points behind six-in-a-row chasing Celtic.
Appointed in summer 2015, Mark Warburton guided Rangers into the Scottish Premiership this season but left last month in a bitter row, with the club claiming he had resigned as boss and the Englishman strongly disputing that.
Despite Wednesday’s 3-2 win over St Johnstone after Aberdeen’s 1-0 loss to Hamilton the night before, third-placed Rangers are six points behind the Dons.
“I’d like Derek McInnes,” Miller, who will be part of the annual Scotland Legends versus England Legends match at Jebel Ali Golf Resort in Dubai on Friday, said. The game, also featuring the likes of former England internationals Teddy Sheringham and Darren Anderton, kicks-off at 3pm with entry for fans free of charge.
“I don’t know what the script is there, I don’t know whether he has been contacted, I don’t think he has — but I don’t know if the board know who they want yet to be honest,” added Miller.
“But it’s a big decision because we’re a wee bit behind Celtic just now and we can’t let it go any further.
“I think Derek’s done well at Aberdeen and I think he’s taken them probably as far as he can take them. I don’t think they can win the league unfortunately.
“But he’s done a good job there, he’s got some great players and he’s got some good results. He knows the (Rangers) players and he knows the club.”
Manager at Aberdeen for nearly four years, McInnes has guided the club to second place for each of the past two seasons. He won the Scottish League Cup in 2014 and reached the final this season.
Though he lasted barely over a year in his previous job with Bristol City, in which he left them in the relegation zone when he was sacked in January, 2013, Miller defended McInnes by insisting: “He had his wage bill cut from 16 million pounds to 8 million pounds and that’s not easy in the Championship that.”
Miller added that McInnes, who has been linked with the Rangers post, was “a good candidate”.
“We have to get this one right,” Miller insisted.
The former Scotland international said the target for the rest of the season was to “finish third and win the Scottish Cup”.
Rangers’ next game is Saturday’s quarter-final at home against Hamilton.
“I think Aberdeen will finish above Rangers,” Miller said.
“The performances haven’t been good enough. Rangers will be in a battle for third place if they keep on losing games, that’s a certainty. If they keep on losing games, it’ll be a battle for third or fourth.”
Miller blamed Warburton’s failed signings, including high-profile Joey Barton whose contract was terminated after just eight games following a major bust-up, and an inability to adapt as the main reasons for the manager’s reign ending.
“His signings, his unwillingness to change formation and no ‘Plan B’. We were easy to play against. From the outside looking in, that’s how it looked like. He didn’t know how to change the game. That’s the big, big problem,” said Miller.
But former Rangers and Scotland defender Colin Hendry, also playing in the Legends game, believes the expectations at Rangers this season have been unrealistic.
Hendry, who played for the Ibrox club between 1998 and 2000, said: “If you look at the points gap, if you’re being honest as a Rangers fan, or as a football fan, that’s not really any more than they were going to be anyway.”
Hendry said the replacement of rookie Ronny Deila with former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers as Celtic manager had made it even harder for Rangers.
“They were never going to win,” Hendry said.
“The money Celtic have, and the manager has come in and done remarkably well, because he’s a good coach.
If you’re being honest as a Rangers fan or as a realist, second or third isn’t any more than should have been expected anyway at Rangers.”
He added: “Some of the performances might have been unacceptable but Celtic are streets ahead. Anybody who expected to win the league at the beginning of the season? Nah.”
Hendry, who was part of the treble-winning 1999 Ibrox team, said the Scottish Cup semi-final penalty shootout win over Celtic last season, when Deila was Hoops boss, had given Rangers “a false sense” of where they were.
“The spanner in the works was the semi-final at Hampden,” he said.
“It was great to beat them but you can’t use that as the yardstick.”
And Hendry, who believes it “could be two or three years” before the Gers can challenge their Glasgow rivals, added: “Everyone’s saying it’s been a disastrous season — not really, if you’re being honest with yourself. Apart from that one game where Rangers beat Celtic at Hampden last season, you’ve seen the difference and the gulf between the two sides.”