Rotherham United boss Paul Warne says it was holistically agreed that new signing Mickel Miller was the right man for the club, despite the club’s coaching staff spending hours analysing footage of potential targets during the UK lockdown.
The aptly-named Miller was one of a long list of players presented to the management team by Rob Scott and his staff as potential targets ahead of the 2020/21 season, but after extensive internal discussions it was the man who followed a similar path into football as his new manager whose profile best fit for his new employers.
"Throughout the lockdown, Rob [Scott] and Chris [Trotter] have given us loads of names to look at and myself and the coaches have watched loads of games in that period,” Warne told www.themillers.co.uk.
"We've seen loads and loads of wingers across different countries but we were all of the opinion that Mickel suited our style more than anybody else.
"We're obviously really pleased. We've had a very long, exhaustive search for a left-footed left winger.”
Warne admitted that despite being pleased with the players who have operated on the left flank for him in recent times - including the right-footed Hakeeb Adelakun on loan from Bristol City last season – he was pleased to readdress the ‘balance’ in his squad by adding the left-footed Miller as his first summer signing.
"My first choice was to get a left footer, who would be similar to Chieo on the opposite side who is happy to go outside a player and cross on his strong foot, but similarly to drive inside and create,” he explained.
"I just like the natural balance of having two left footers down the left side.
"We wanted someone who could predominantly cross balls from anywhere because that is crucial for us.
"He can play on the right as well and he has scored some goals coming in from that side.
"He works really hard out of possession of the ball which has been fundamental to our success. No matter where you play in our team - up front or left back - you have to press. That was a massive tick box for him. He's a goal threat and he creates opportunities and we have centre forwards who crave crosses so that was good.”
🎙️| "I see him as similar to Chieo because they are both wingers who want to take on full backs."— Rotherham United (@OfficialRUFC) July 6, 2020
Paul Warne explains he is pleased to have added 'balance' to his wide areas after signing Mickel Miller.
Full written interview to follow...#rufc | #ForeverTogetherForeverProud pic.twitter.com/oKE2WRCKOL
The 24-year-old’s journey in the game so far no doubt played a part in endearing him further to his new boss, who followed a similar path from non-league to the second tier and Warne reaffirmed the traits that Miller has shown to reach this stage are ones he holds in high regard.
"He played at Carshalton in non-league before getting taken north of the border where he did really well,” Warne added.
"He was prepared to move away and he has all the characteristics of a player I like, in that he was prepared to take a chance, back himself and enjoys a challenge.
"He hasn't been given his career on a silver platter, which I like.
"He's a really good kid, who agreed on how we could help him and improve him.
"We ended up having two or three FaceTime meetings with Mickel. They were supposed to be with him and his agent but his agent couldn't make it and he still wanted to do it, which was big for us.
"We had those meetings, showed him clips of what we think he can do and where we think he can improve. As we always do, we'll try to make him realise how difficult it is to come and play for us, whilst reiterating that the rewards are there.”
Millers fans will be incredibly pleased to hear that their manager has drawn comparisons between popular winger Chiedozie Ogbene and the club’s new recruit, with Warne explaining that the former Hamilton man is another player who regularly likes to burst beyond his opposite number.
"I see him as similar to Chieo because they are both wingers, who want to take on full backs, predominantly down the outside. They both create chances and are good people,” he continued.
"When Chieo came in there possibly wasn't anyone in Yorkshire who knew who he was, but everyone does now.
"They are the sort of players who have come in and done really well. I would expect him to play a big part this season - the bigger the better - but that is down to Mickel and us. We have a responsibility to improve him but he has to buy into that and I think he will.”
Like his new teammates, Miller’s season in Scotland ended back in March meaning that he has been deprived of matches and training for a number of months.
However, Warne has been impressed with his early showings on the training ground after the first team returned to training last week, with his newest recruit leading the running with a number of other familiar faces in the athletic department.
“He's running alongside Crooksy and he is one of our overall best athletes so the early signs are that he's a good fit,” he beamed.
"In pre-season he has looked fitter than Chieo, so I've been winding Chieo up saying that he'll be fitter than him!
"I might have accidentally dropped in to him [Mickel] what the lads have been doing in the lockdown and sent him some Strava data!
"He was politely pushed to keep training off season and he's a motivated kid.”