Miller hoping to taste Champions League again with AIK

Stockholm: AIK Solna`s abrasive Scottish coach Alex Miller has publicly criticised his players, sold two fan favourites and introduced a tough disciplinary regime in the few short weeks since he took over the Swedish champions.

All this will be forgotten, though, if he can steer his team to the Champions League group stage they have not reached since 1999. AIK host Rosenborg in a tough third-round qualifier on Wednesday with the return in Trondheim a week later.

"It will be a very difficult game. Rosenborg have a very good tradition of playing Champions League games," Miller told reporters on the eve of the clash with the Norwegian champions.

"The most important thing in the Champions League is not to lose goals at home. Their players move the ball quickly, good passing construction, good defence.

Despite winning the double last year, AIK were flirting with relegation when the 61-year-old Miller contacted them.

The Scot, who spent nine years at Liverpool as a coach and chief scout, was out of work following a spell in Japan and e-mailed the Swedish club to inform them of his availability.

He was rewarded with an 18-month contract but it has not all been plain sailing. Sweden is famed for its consensus society and Miller`s authoritarian style is not to everyone`s liking.

Any doubts about his reputation as a hard man were removed at his first news conference where he recounted a tale from his playing days with Rangers in Scotland.

He suffered a broken jaw midway through a cup final, but carried on regardless. "My face was sore," he told reporters, "but you don`t play with your face."

Despite criticism of his style, Miller believes his hardline approach is bearing fruit.

"I think the senior players have taken to my methods, they work hard and they understand my mentality and what I`m trying to do with the team," Miller said on Tuesday.

"The younger players don`t have the knowledge tactically that the senior players have (but) they are beginning to understand".

After a recent defeat by Malmo he publicly criticised his players, saying he needed fewer boys and more men on the field.

"When you`re away from home you`ve got to stand up and be counted. You have the crowd against you but the grass is the same colour and the pitch is the same size," Miller said.

Miller is no stranger to the Champions League having worked for Liverpool during their triumphant campaign in 2005.

"I had the good fortune to be with Liverpool when they won it and guys who were millionaires were crying. It`s not about the money, it`s about getting the medal."

Miller is hoping to taste success in the Champions League again and has watched Rosenborg carefully as part of his preparations for their qualifying encounter.

"They defend as a team and they attack as a team but we`re at home and we`ll have to try to increase our attacking qualities. At the end of the tie, both teams will know that they`ve been in a hard fixture."

Bureau Report