The problem with last season for Livingston was that it took them to an unnatural level.
Of course, the West Lothian club had featured in the top flight before, finishing as high as third back in the SPL years, but under David Hopkin they won promotion with one of the smallest budgets in the Scottish Championship.
Survival in the Scottish Premiership was subsequently always likely to be a tall order and Kenny Miller’s exit as Livi manager after just two months in charge has only lengthened their odds further.
A sense of malaise had been bubbling under the surface at the Toni Macaroni Arena for a while, with Hopkin himself deciding to leave the club at the end of last season due to concerns over transfer market backing.
Miller was a risky appointment given his lack of coaching experience, with Livingston’s statement hinting that the former Rangers striker was never fully committed to his managerial post, rejecting the club’s request to retire from playing to focus on life in the dugout.
So, what now for Miller? At 38, the former Cardiff, Celtic, Derby, Rangers and Wolves striker is surely close to retirement, but on the basis of his decision to leave Livingston he doesn’t see it this way. He will now look for a new club to continue his playing career, but considering what has happened over the past two seasons will any other side in the Scottish Premiership be willing to take on Miller?
In crashing out of Livingston and Rangers within just a few months of each other, Miller’s reputation has taken a battering.
There were strong suggestions that Miller became a mole within the Ibrox dressing room, with the striker ostracised from the first team by Pedro Caixinha.
The striker was then officially suspended, along with Lee Wallace, for his role in an altercation with manager Graeme Murty after the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Celtic.
?| Club Statement – Kenny Miller.https://t.co/b7jwdOR66j
— Livingston FC (@LiviFCOfficial) August 20, 2018
Fairly or not, Miller has now been tagged as a troublesome dressing room influence, with his exit from Livingston, which was leaked to the press before it was officially confirmed, only adding to this.
Whoever hands him a contract next will be taking a risk. Miller might still have something left to offer, but there is now an element of doubt around his character.
At Scottish Premiership level, Miller might struggle to find a taker. Having drawn a blank in each of their last two games, St Mirren, the team promoted from the second tier along with Livingston, could use some extra firepower.
Dundee are also struggling for goals and given that Miller and Neil McCann played together at Rangers it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he could pitch up at Dens Park.
More likely is that Miller will drop down the leagues to find a new club. The Scottish Championship might be the best fit for the striker at this stage of his career, with Miller netting 21 times over the 2015/16 season, the last time he played at second tier level.
There would surely be no shortage of clubs there willing to take him on. He still has the quality to make the difference in the Scottish Championship.
In the longer term, Miller’s premature departure from Livingston raises questions over his future in the game. Crashing out of his first managerial job in such a manner, just two months and a handful of games after his appointment at the Toni Macaroni Arena, leaves a black mark on his C.V. A coaching career after this, at least at top flight level, might now be beyond Miller.
Of course, if he still believes he can play at the top level of the Scottish game he is entitled to give it a shot.
A professional’s career is short and so there’s something to admired about Miller’s refusal to retire.
But in doing so he has called into question much about himself. What happens next, whatever that may be, must be something positive, something to change the narrative.