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willie miller

It would be an understatement to say that the Dons were in a state of turmoil following the sacking of Alex Smith in February 1992. The hangover from the previous season when the title was lost on the final day at Ibrox had lingered. Aberdeen had dropped off the pace and had slipped to sixth place in the league, their lowest position since the early days of the Premier League. There was also the festering unrest amongst the support that had festered ever since the end of the previous season.

It was to Willie Miller that the club turned to bring back the glory days. Miller had already been groomed in charge of the young dons, albeit for the shortest periods of time. The Dons legend had retired from the game after 20 glorious years as an Aberdeen player and his popularity amongst the support was quite remarkable. It was hoped that Miller could take his success on the field and in to the managers office. It was clear that the team needed strong leadership and sure Miller would provide that. As a player and captain he was a colossus - as a manager he was untried. In his short spell with the reserve team he had already turned down two offers to go on to manage Arbroath and Ayr Utd, who unsuccessfully tried to lure Miller into the lower leagues. It was certainly a baptism of fire in his first game in charge at Ibrox, scene of some of Willie Miller's finest moments leading the Dons.

Aberdeen displayed a show of true grit right out of the Miller manual by holding Rangers to a 0-0 draw. The rest of the season was afforded to the new boss to asses and look to strengthen the squad. Before the end of the season he brought in former foe Mixu Paatelainen form Dundee Utd. Pittodrie was looking strange with the Beach End demolished as Miller set out in his quest for honours in 1992/93. He brought in two significant signings- first Roy Aitken was brought in as player/coach. It was seen as a surprise move as Aitken had been the Celtic captain that was never afraid to mix it up with the Dons in the past. His role was primarily as assistant and the occasional appearance in the side. The physical presence that Miller craved was also heightened when Duncan Shearer was bought from Blackburn Rovers for £500,000. The firepower at Miller?s disposal was frightening. With Shearer now in the side he also had Paatelainen and with both Scott Booth and Eoin Jess emerging, it seemed goals would not be a problem so it proved as the Dons set about scoring for fun and included in several convincing wins was seven goals against Airdrie and Partick Thistle and a hapless Hearts were also hit for six.

Under Miller Aberdeen were seen as the only challengers to Rangers after a tragic deflection from Gary Smith ended the Dons hopes. The league race was fought in a brave fashion and despite securing a record point?s haul Miller's side could only finish as runners up. The Scottish Cup Final was also another disappointment as Rangers once again squeezed past the Dons. It was hard to take for Miller who had been so used to putting the Ibrox side to the sword during his playing days.

The following season brought about another near miss, again, runners up to Rangers in the league. It was unacceptable for Miller who could not accept second best as good enough. The summer of 1994 was to prove crucial in both the career of Willie Miller and the club. Aberdeen had parted company with three of their stalwarts - Alex McLeish left to take over at Motherwell, Bobby Connor returned to his native Ayrshire and Jim Bett took up a coaching position in Iceland. Miller brought in Billy Dodds, Colin Woodthorpe and Peter Heatherston in a bold move to keep up the challenge.

It remains one of the most remarkable periods in the Dons history, as Aberdeen never really recovered from a poor start to the 1994/95 season. Perhaps it was all initiated in the UEFA Cup as Aberdeen went out to Latvian side Skonto Riga in what was the clubs darkest hour in European football. The Dons never really recovered from their Euro exit and for months were struggling at the foot of the table. This was unheard of, as the Dons had been perennial challengers ever since the Premier League began in 1975. In what was the first season that three points were awarded for a win, Aberdeen struggled for long periods and at one time looked certain to be relegated.

Miller was in unchartered territory. Aberdeen's troubles were never far away from daily scrutiny in the media; the pressure was mounting on Willie Miller. Were Aberdeen too good to go down? Not so it seemed. By February all looked lost with the Dons rooted to the bottom . Panic had set in. The Dons had spent big in an effort to challenge at the top but incredibly they found themselves scraping and battling at the bottom.

Willie Miller and Aberdeen eventually parted company in dramatic circumstances in February 1995, severing a 23-year association that had scaled unprecedented heights as a player and plunged the depths as a manager. It was a sad end for Miller, who had become a legend at Pittodrie and for all of their troubles under Miller as a manager it is as a great captain and leader that Willie Miller will be remembered as the greatest ever Don.


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AFC Competitive Managerial Record

Competition Played Won Drawn Lost For Against GD
Europe 6 2 2 2 11 6 5
League 126 54 46 26 184 111 73
LeagueCup 12 9 0 3 32 9 23
ScotsCup 13 8 3 2 22 11 11
Total 157 73 51 33 249 137 112

AFC Appearances

Season League League Cup Scottish Cup Europe Total Reserve Youth
  App Sub App Sub App Sub App Sub App Sub App Sub
1990-91 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
1989-90 15 0 5 0 0 0 2 0 22 0 0 0 0 0
1988-89 22 0 5 0 0 0 2 0 29 0 0 0 0 0
1987-88 42 0 5 0 6 0 4 0 57 0 0 0 0 0
1986-87 36 0 2 0 3 0 2 0 43 0 0 0 0 0
1985-86 33 0 6 0 6 0 6 0 51 0 0 0 0 0
1984-85 35 0 1 0 6 0 2 0 44 0 0 0 0 0
1983-84 34 0 9 0 7 0 10 0 60 0 0 0 0 0
1982-83 36 0 8 0 5 0 11 0 60 0 0 0 0 0
1981-82 36 0 10 0 6 0 6 0 58 0 0 0 0 0
1980-81 33 0 6 0 1 0 4 0 44 0 0 0 0 0
1979-80 31 0 8 0 5 0 2 0 46 0 0 0 0 0
1978-79 34 0 8 0 5 0 4 0 51 0 0 0 0 0
1977-78 36 0 6 0 6 0 2 0 50 0 0 0 0 0
1976-77 36 0 8 0 3 0 0 0 47 0 0 0 0 0
1975-76 36 0 6 0 2 0 0 0 44 0 0 0 0 0
1974-75 34 0 6 0 4 0 0 0 44 0 0 0 0 0
1973-74 31 0 9 0 1 0 4 0 45 0 0 0 0 0
1972-73 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Total 560 1 109 0 66 0 61 0 796 1 0 0 0 0

Goals

Season League League Cup Scottish Cup Europe Total Reserve Youth
1988-89 1 2 0 0 3 0 0
1987-88 3 0 0 0 3 0 0
1986-87 2 0 0 0 2 0 0
1985-86 1 0 1 1 3 0 0
1984-85 3 0 0 0 3 0 0
1983-84 2 1 1 0 4 0 0
1982-83 2 0 0 1 3 0 0
1980-81 2 0 0 0 2 0 0
1979-80 1 0 1 0 2 0 0
1978-79 0 0 1 0 1 0 0
1977-78 2 0 0 0 2 0 0
1975-76 0 0 1 0 1 0 0
1974-75 1 0 1 0 2 0 0
1973-74 1 0 0 0 1 0 0