Alex Miller was in charge of the Dons for only a year. During that spell once
more the Dons spiralled downwards and at no point under Miller's tenure did Aberdeen
look like raising themselves out of mediocrity that had taken hold. There is
no doubt that Roy Aitken had left the club in turmoil - after spending a transfer
budget that can only be dreamed of these days. Aberdeen were in desperate trouble.
Aberdeen asked Keith Burkinshaw to step in to the breach until Aitken's successor
was appointed. The Dons' board were convinced that and experienced figurehead
was necessary to stabilise the club. The younger style of management that was
offered by Willie Miller and Roy Aitken had failed - a rescue package was put
in place. Part of that package was Alex Miller in what was a surprise appointment.
It was also met with no little apprehension by the media and Aberdeen support.
Miller had been in charge of Hibernian and his spell at Easter Road ended
in bitter disappointment - Miller had a reputation as a dour character and
his teams reflected that style, hardly in the Aberdeen tradition. However,
these were no ordinary times and Miller's first target was to steady things
and take Aberdeen away from the foot of the table. Previous managers were afforded
the luxury of a sizeable budget to strengthen the team but those days were
coming to an abrupt end. Aberdeen had spent millions in the transfer market
and had little return for their investments. Miller was allowed to bring in
Derek Whyte from Middlesbrough for £100,000 and Northern Ireland international
Michael O'Neil on loan. Until safety had been assured there would be no more
After a sticky spell things improved under Miller by the turn of the year
in 1998, four consecutive home wins in the league was a welcome boost. However,
the renaissance was short lived. The Dons had been left scrabbling for survival
points later in the season and the promise that things would get better was
only tempered by the fact that they could hardly get any worse with new signings
in the summer promised. Alex Miller also appointed former Dundee United stalwart
Paul Hegarty as his assistant and the new season was anticipated with the arrival
of Craig Hignett from Middlesbrough. Hignett was a player of proven pedigree
and he was joined by Andy Dow and Mark Perry. The Aberdeen manager perhaps
rightly so, resisted the temptation to make any bold predictions for his side
but after two games and a memorable win over Celtic the Dons had found themselves
at the top of the league. It was to be short lived as Craig Hignett became
unsettled and Miller seemed unable to keep things ticking over.
Five goals in their opening two league games augured well but it took the
Dons another ten games to reach that total - the rot had set in once more.
What was a concern was that under Alex Miller the Dons failed to improve their
lowly position and the pressure increased by the week. Hignett was sold to
Barnsley for a huge profit and Miller brought in the disastrous signing of
Nigel Pepper. Flamboyant the Dons were not, desperate they were. Growing discontent
in the Pittodrie stands culminated in a run of heavy defeats against St. Johnstone,
Dundee United and Kilmarnock. The 4-0 defeat at Rugby Park was the final straw
and Miller was dumped days after. On reflection, if anything, the Dons were
indeed in a worse state than they were some twelve months previously and had
failed to haul themselves away from the foot of the table. Despite some heavy
investment in the squad it had all fallen down and there seemed little prospect
Miller remained unrepentant to the end but the truth was that under the former
Hibernian boss the Dons side looked a stale and uninspired bunch and as so
often happens in the modern game, the manager carries the can for such failure.
Alex Miller joined Rangers from Clydebank Juniors in 1967 and it was at Ibrox
that he won 11 major honours before leaving in 1982. One of his last games
in fact for Rangers was the 1982 Cup Final when he was in the side that lost
to Aberdeen. Alex then played in Hong Kong for a spell before returning to
take over as manager of Morton for one season. After his brief spell at Cappielow
he moved to St Mirren and was manager at Love Street for two seasons before
moving to Hibernian in December 1986. During his ten years at Easter Road he
took his side to a win in the 1991 League Cup and a return to European football.
His highest league finish with Hibernian was third place in 1995. It was while
at Easter Road that Miller was also drafted in to assist Craig Brown in the
In September 1996 he moved on to Coventry City to assist Gordon Strachan before
taking over at Pittodrie.
Alex Miller played 306 games for Rangers as a full back after originally being
signed as a forward. Miller is currently enjoying a scouting role with Premiership