Liverpool’s first-team coach Alex Miller is to leave the club for a new role in Tokyo after being appointed as manager of J-League outfit JEF United Chiba.
Earlier today Reuters carried quotes suggesting Miller was likely to join, from an official at the Japanese club who finished 13th last season and are struggling this: “We have drawn up a list and are hoping to make an announcement either tomorrow or the next day,” Kentaro Shiga said, “Miller is one of our candidates. We have a match this weekend so we want to name the new manager as soon as possible. We should have more details in the next day or two.”
Press in Japan claimed that Miller was offered a £500k-a-year salary to take over the side. They had recently sacked the previous manager, Croatian Josip Kuze, with the side at the bottom of the table, having been unable to win any of their 11 opening fixtures. Reuters say that the side have seen many of their better players leave in recent years, including Japanese internationals Naotake Hanyu and Satoru Yamagishi.
Now the official JEF United site says Miller has accepted their offer. He’ll not be taking charge of their next game, which is against Kyoto on May 10th, his new assistant Shigeo Sawairi filling in until Miller’s LFC responsibilities are over.
Miller had been chief scout at Anfield under Gerard Houllier, but Rafa Benítez moved him onto the coaching staff on his arrival, alongside assistant Pako Ayestaran. Ayesteran left the club last year, leaving Rafa without an assistant, but with Miller leaving too Rafa will need to review his options with regards his coaching staff. There’s a possibility that Sammy Lee and Frank McParland could be recruited, although that would depend on Rick Parry and the owners agreeing to those appointments and also that they come in at no more than the previous budget allocated for Ayesteran and Miller.
UPDATE: Reds boss Benitez has now confirmed Miller is to move to the Japanese side. He told LFC’s official website that a replacement would be appointed during the summer. Rafa said he was pleased for Alex Miller too: “It is very positive news for Alex. This is a very good opportunity for him to coach in Japan.
“It means we will be promoting some of the existing coaching staff and also over the summer we will be looking to bring in a replacement. We have some names and options but need more discussion first.” This could mean a promotion for Gary Ablett, who guided the reserves to their third trophy so far this season in last night’s 3-0 win at Anfield, but Sammy Lee is now thought to be another name under consideration.
Rafa had a message for the man he’s had sitting alongside him for four years: “I want to wish Alex all the best in his new job.”
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