Date: 22nd November 2006 at 11:38pm
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Willie Miller has spoken out about his first 3 seasons back at the club and the trauma that coming back involved since he was so harshly sacked. He credits Aberdeen`s recent revival to his first decision as a board member which was to bring Jimmy Calderwood and Jimmy Nicholl to Pittodrie and predicts that Pittodrie will once again see silverware.

Speaking to the Daily Record, he said ‘I have given the club back to our fans. They have a team that they can be proud of.

It took me by surprise when I was asked to go back to Pittodrie and it was a difficult decision because of what had happened in the past.

My thinking was that as I had been at the club as a boy and a man, the least I could do was listen to what the chairman had to say.

When I went in I knew what I wanted. My blueprint was drawn from my experience over 30-odd years as a player, coach, manager, businessman and working in the media.

Obviously the financial state of Aberdeen was bad, like many other SPL clubs, but that was something I was prepared to live with.

The biggest challenge of all was turning Aberdeen back into a football club because, in my opinion, it was being controlled by people who were running it from a financial standpoint rather than on sound football principles.

I had to foster a football mentality. A combination of both was necessary.

Now I am the football director and Duncan Fraser is in charge of the financial side. I can assure our supporters that the club is being run properly.

Naturally, sorting out the team was a priority. Apart from one season, Aberdeen had struggled for most of the last decade trying to stay in the SPL.’

Bringing in the right management team was crucial because there had been too many changes in the past.

I had watched how Jimmy operated and what he’d achieved at Dunfermline and liked what I saw.

Naturally, I knew of his background in Holland where he’d qualified through a very technical and demanding coaching system. But he also had a British mentality so we got the best of both countries.

Above all else, I knew he would insist that his team play good football.

I knew he would bring character and excitement to the job and I have absolutely no regrets about hiring him and Jimmy Nicholl.

Sandy Clark arrived later and we now have a management team with a huge amount of experience which has worked extremely hard to drive the club forward. I have absolutely no regrets about their appointment. Their time in charge has been very productive by providing the consistency that had been missing so often before.

That was exactly what was needed and, without being complacent, the threat of relegation which haunted us no longer exists.

I still see and believe they have the talent and knowledge to take us to the next level.

We have stability and quality and over the last seven or eight games, the product has been good.’

Miller also noticed that standards had not only dropped on the pitch and realised that things must be put right in every aspect at the club if success is to be achieved

There were other issues, not so pressing, but still important ones. In all my time at Pittodrie, the place was neat and clean.

But because all the focus had been on the financial side, the fabric of the place had been allowed to deteriorate.

The dressing-rooms and hallways were upgraded and repainted because players are smart – they notice when standards drop and can react negatively. They must have the right environment to give their best.

Look at the international-class players such as Barry Nicholson, Stevie Crawford and Lee Miller who have been enticed here.

It wouldn’t have been possible to acquire that quality before but, as I say, players aren’t daft. They know when a club is being run properly and making progress which influences their career decisions.

We don’t have the resources of Rangers and Celtic and in recent times Hearts and Dundee United have invested much more on their squads.

Because of our financial situation, we are going to lose players – that’s a fact of life.

Consequently, our youth system must deliver the replacements to keep us at the right end of the league because we cannot afford to buy them.

I’m a fan as well as a director and I take great satisfaction from guys such as Russell Anderson, Michael Hart, Ricky Foster and Chris Clark who have all come through the ranks, making such a telling contribution.’

With crowds down by 10 per cent this season, Miller concedes that his revolution is still ongoing.

He said: ‘Jimmy is a manager who believes in telling the fans what they want to know and I go along with that.

‘I said to Jimmy when he came here that if he was successful, we’d get gates of 15,000. I still believe that’s possible if we keep producing the same quality.

‘Obviously, there are a number of our supporters who remain to be convinced that we are heading back in the right direction.

But we are out there trying to win them over and a good run in the Scottish Cup is what’s needed.’<