Miller: Players let Levein down

Kenny Miller
Kenny Miller admits Scotland's players cost Craig Levein his job as manager. Photo: PA

Scotland striker Kenny Miller admits the players ultimately cost Craig Levein his job as manager for failing to perform when it mattered.

Miller gave a frank assessment on Levein's reign as he stressed that everything was in place for them to enjoy a successful World Cup qualifying campaign.

That failed to materialise with two points from their first four games, and Scotland go into Wednesday`s friendly against Luxembourg with Billy Stark in caretaker charge and the squad decimated by nine withdrawals.

Miller was at a loss to explain why Scotland could not translate the feelgood factor into performances, with Levein paying the price for home draws against Serbia and Macedonia and away defeats by Wales and Belgium.

The forward, whose season with Vancouver Whitecaps is finished, said: "We are disappointed Craig is away. I know we have ranted and raved about progress when Craig was here, and we know results weren`t good enough.

"We genuinely liked Craig and felt he was the right man because of the atmosphere he created in the squad. But ultimately a manager`s job is going to fall on results.

"We feel we had everything in place to have a right good campaign. The squad was there, the spirit was there, the atmosphere was great within the players and the coaches, there was a good relationship with everyone.

"Unfortunately we have not got the results that would allow that to continue.

"There are a few of us who felt we let the manager down in the performances in the first four games. It`s not the return we hoped for and thought we would get.

"Going into this campaign I was as optimistic as ever. I felt we had a good group and the group was very open.

"But when we have crossed that white line we have just not performed as players.

"Its very disappointing because we are playing catch-up in the group and ultimately it has cost the gaffer his job. Its disappointing and more so because we have played a big part in it."

Midfielder Charlie Adam, who pulled out of this squad through injury, blamed the Scottish papers for Levein's sacking in the immediate aftermath of the announcement, but Miller did not concur.

"Im sure the people at the head of the SFA will say they have had no bearing on them whatsoever, and I would like to think thats the way it is," the former Rangers and Celtic striker said.

"The negativity comes with results and thats why we feel we have played a big, big part in Craig leaving his job because we never performed in the first four games. Its as simple as that.

"If we had beaten Wales, which again we harp on about excuses with the goal getting cut off wrongly, we probably wouldn`t be sitting here talking about this. Whether the press had a big say, who knows?"

Miller, who was dropped for the Wales and Belgium games, added: "We`ve got to move on and we have got a job to do now, to get a result on Wednesday and restore a bit of confidence in the team and that can hopefully be used to build towards the qualifiers in March and get back into the group."

While Miller took responsibility for the results, he was unable to explain why they were so poor. Levein ended up with a record of three wins from 12 competitive games, two of which came against Liechtenstein, despite some promising friendly results.

"It`s kind of funny, we used to do it the other way about, we used to turn up for the qualifiers and not so much for the friendlies," he said.

"I dont know, its really disappointing because I was really optimistic and confident we could make an impact in this group.

"We beat Denmark, a very good team, we beat Czech Republic in a friendly and we had that good performance against Australia right before the qualifiers, and it only suggested we were going to come into it in good form.

"I dont think Serbia was that bad a performance, but I dont think we performed anywhere near to the levels we can in the three games after that.

"There is not an answer to it because as players we thought we were going to do really well in this group."

Miller will be 33 next month but there is no sign of him using the end of Levein's reign to quit international football himself.

"I have always said, until I get retired, I don`t think I will retire," he said.

"You never want to make that decision. Its something I enjoy doing and Im very, very proud to represent my country.

"I want to continue as long as I can. Obviously it`s not going to go on forever but I still feel I have a bit to offer."