SOME things make football seem insignificant.
For Kenny Miller, Leigh Griffiths’ battle for peace of mind is one of them.
Miller has been inside the pressure cooker of Old Firm stardom for both Rangers and Celtic.
He knows how intense life can become when everybody is watching you.
That’s why the Dundee striker doesn’t just think Griffiths has done the right thing by taking time out from football to focus on himself – he knows it.
Never mind Celtic. Never mind Old Firm rivalry.
Never mind football.
The most important thing is simple – Leigh Griffiths the man.
“I really just want to wish him all the best,” said Miller.
“Things like this unite the football world.
“You’ve seen the messages of support. I know while I was working on BT Sport on Thursday night covering the Europa League, he released a message thanking everyone for their support.
“All you want to do is extend that further.
“You could say that it’s about getting him back to a place where he can play football again.
“But the truth is, football is secondary to this.
“I just want to wish him all the best. I hope he gets the help he needs and makes a speedy recovery.”
Miller’s wishes – like those of everyone else involved in the game – are heartfelt.
For players at every club, there’s a sense of a comrade having stumbled, irrespective of allegiances more keenly felt by supporters.
But while Griffiths’ recovery gets underway, football will continue, and Miller and his colleagues will play on.
It won’t be life or death.
But on-song Miller is hopeful Dundee can climb out of the Premiership’s danger zone after showing signs of a resurgence over the last month.
“It has taken a wee while for the players to get used to the demands of the new manager,” he said of Dark Blues gaffer Jim McIntyre.
“He expects a high level of work every day. But we have definitely seen the benefits of that over recent games.
“That has coincided with better performances and better results, and better chances being created at one end of the pitch.
“I’d like to think we have turned the corner.
“There might be blips. But as long as we can keep our performance levels up – and constantly look to improve – hopefully we can start to climb the league.”
A little over a month ago, Dundee were languishing at the bottom of the table on three points.
Their new manager’s first four games had resulted in four defeats, with 13 goals conceded and none scored.
It was grim, but green shoots of progress emerged through November and into December.
The Dark Blues are still lowly. Yet Miller has seen enough to suggest those green shoots could be nurtured into something beyond mere potential.
“It has been a huge team effort,” said Miller. “You’ve seen a massive improvement on the team working as a unit, not just as individual elements.
“That’s defensively and offensively.
“The team is more connected, which allows you to be harder to break down.
“Even with 10 men against Rangers last Sunday, they really found it tough to play through us.
“But we also maintained a threat on the counter-attack too.
“It’s important for any team – you need to be together, you need to be connected, the units need to be tight.
“That’s something the manager has worked on since he came in.”
Martin Woods’ arrival in midfield has proved key for the Dark Blues.
The former Ross County man has freed up formerly anchored midfield talents, while also posing a threat himself.
Now Miller reckons that, if the chances keep coming, he will keep putting them away.
“I’m confident,” he said.
“With the chances that have come along, a couple have been opportunistic, but a couple have been ones where, as a striker, you put yourself into a position and you need the ball to be put into an area.
“They have been put in.
“When you think of the St Mirren goal, the ball from Benji (Benjamin Kallman); the Hibs one, Nathan Ralph gets the ball into an area.
“Glenn Kamara, jinking and chopping on the edge of the box against Hamilton and it’s just a case of me being in the right position.
“I’ve always done that – it’s about continuing to do it.
“And if we get the balls into these areas – with bodies in there with me, other people making runs – I believe the more chances we’ll have to score goals.”
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