One of the main points of debate this week as Scotland embark on their bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup will be whether Jordan Rhodes or Kenny Miller should lead the attack.
It seems that, despite popular opinion in favour of young Rhodes being handed a competitive debut against Serbia on Saturday, Craig Levein will keep faith with the tried and tested Miller. The former Hibs, Rangers and Cardiff striker has many detractors so there will be fierce criticism of the manager if his decision to pick him backfires in what is being billed as a must-win game.
However, one of the arguments against Miller’s inclusion in the team needs canned before the discussion even starts; the one about his move to Vancouver Whitecaps counting against him. There seems to be a popular school of thought on these shores that heading for the MLS automatically signals the end of a player’s career.
In the case of someone like David Beckham, who still seemed to have a few years left at the very top when he moved to LA Galaxy in 2007, this argument may hold some water. But when it comes to the likes of Miller and Barry Robson – two players who have spent the bulk of their careers in the SPL and English Championship – the notion that they have somehow taken a step down in moving across the Atlantic is utterly ridiculous. If anything, they have bettered themselves. This league has levels of cash, support and quality which the impoverished SPL can only dream of.
Along with Beckham, the MLS is also home to the likes of Tim Cahill, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and German pair Torsten Frings and Arne Friedrich, not to mention a host of Mexican and Colombian internationalists. The United States, who thrashed Scotland 5-1 just three months ago, have included no less than five MLS players in their latest squad. Only two seasons ago, Miller was arguably the hottest striker in the SPL as he banged in goals on a weekly basis. However, the fact the nets haven’t bulged quite so regularly in his early days with Vancouver suggests he is now operating in a vastly superior division, despite claims to the contrary from those still living in the 1990s. The reduction in goals certainly can’t be put down to any notable deterioration from Miller. If anything, he’s at his peak, with his last four outings for the national team having seen him score twice – including the wonder strike against Cyprus – and set up three more.
There is no suggestion that Miller has suddenly turned into a superstar by heading across the pond, but to use the move as a stick to beat him with is sheer folly, not to mention downright ignorant. The MLS is surely, at the very least, on a par with the Championship, where Rhodes is currently earning a living.
There has been much foaming at the mouth over David Templeton’s move to Rangers, but there really needn’t be.
Granted, it’s frustrating for Hearts fans that a club which has been punished for serious financial wrongdoing can still afford one of their players, but it shouldn’t be ignored that Rangers were still the only club willing to pay a decent fee for a player who was deemed not good enough for Hearts’ Scottish Cup final squad three months ago, at the end of a season in which he too often flattered to deceive. The alternative for Hearts was losing him for nothing on a pre-contract.
Templeton’s decision to go to the Third Division may be hard to fathom for most of us, but until we have stood in the shoes of an impressionable 23-year-old Glasgow boy who is offered the chance to at least double his salary and work closer to home, we are really in no position to judge. David Templeton is happy and Hearts should be happy, too. Let that be the end of the matter.