Miller backs Fulham’s EPL return

Fulham’s Australian assistant coach Scott Miller is confident the Cottagers can get promoted back into the English Premier League next season after being relegated for the first time in 13 years.

Fulham finished 19th in England’s top flight on 32 points after managing just nine wins and five draws from its 38 matches. The west London club finished 12th in the 2012-2013 Premier League season and went through three managers in the past campaign.

Miller, who has been with Fulham for the eight seven years, believes the Cottagers can get back up from the Championship at their first attempt.

“Yes I am confident, as a coach you need to express that confidence to the players,” he said.

“However it won't be through luck or chance, it will be through thorough fixture focused preparation and creating a positive however stimulating training ground environment.

“The day after we were relegated I sat down with the match analysis staff and we began to create an extensive Championship scouting document that I could review over the summer.

“It's crucial we understand the principles of play of our opposition and the personnel. As for how hard, who knows, as hard as we choose to make it.

“If our application and attitude is correct, we will perform to the level required. Amateurs hope, professionals prepare to win, we will focus on the later.

“It's not a given [promotion], of course, however it's important the recruitment on type, style and character of player is correct for the Championship.”

Miller admits being relegated, after the club had stayed in the Premier League since promotion in 2001, was tough to take.

“It was difficult, I felt for all the non footballing staff and most of all for the fans,” he said.

“I remember at the final whistle at Stoke, when our fate was sealed, I sat in the away bench until the pitch had cleared of all the players, it wasn't deliberate, it was just that realisation hit me.

“Walking towards the away end our fans were superb having supported us all year. It was difficult and upsetting walking towards them. 

“With preparations underway for next season it makes you realise that although relegated, we are still standing, we will work to improve and earn or right to play in the Premier League again.”

Miller said he has learnt more over the past 12 months than in any year in his time with Fulham.

“When your winning confidence builds and it seems easier to maintain that rhythm,” he said.

“You enjoy the feeling of success and everything seems to roll in a positive manner. This season was intense, positive performances were few and far between and the changes at senior level obviously was a reflection of poor performances.

“I have learnt that stability within a football club culture is vital and although changes occur, if the club maintains it's values and provides staff the opportunity to further develop, well this can only provide greater support to the playing squad.”

Miller has served as an assistant technical and first-team fitness coach at Fulham under several managers, including Mark Hughes, Roy Hodgson, Rene Meulensteen and Martin Jol. Currently he is working with Felix Magath, the former Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg and Schalke coach who joined Fulham in February this year. 

“I have enjoyed working under Felix, he's given me another perspective on preparation and player management, something I have really enjoyed,” Miller said.

“His approach is simple really, he asks for complete commitment everyday we train, and that we must develop as professionals continually.”

Miller is currently completing his UEFA A License so he can one day make the step up and manage a club. He describes his years served as a Premier League assistant as having an incredible learning curve.

“It's been an incredible learning curve, one that anyone in football would wish to be involved in,” Miller said.

“Every manager I have worked for has been fantastic to me in mentoring my development. The Premier League is not just about what happens on field, however over the last few years I have looked at a number of different areas within football to ensure I was subjected to all facets of football management.

“The experience has been invaluable to me, every fixture has a focus, a pressure like no other league in the world. The exposure and interest puts large amounts of pressure on players and coaches.

“Being ready [to manage a first-team] is the unknown. I have had had some great advice from current Managers suggesting that being patient is the key, and to be ready when the opportunity arises.

“Do I believe I'm ready? I look at it from a different perspective, and believe in my ability and what I have to offer. I'll control the environment and challenges in my path and apply myself to the drive any team I would be fortunate to manage.”