Bradford City v Charlton Athletic: Mature Miller takes rough with smooth as City seek morale boost

WITH a high-profile Premier League referee as an uncle, George Miller grew up listening to criticism from the terraces.

New Bradford head coach David Hopkin takes charge off his first match (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Those barbs aimed at the now retired Mark Halsey are perhaps why the 20-year-old Bradford City loanee can turn the other cheek when the flack is flying in his direction.

“Everyone has opinions,” said Miller to The Yorkshire Post. “Coming here to Bradford, you see just how many more people have an opinion on you.

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“Some of it has been good, some not so good. I was subbed the other week, felt I’d done well and got a standing ovation. That gave me a proper buzz.

“But a couple of weeks before that, I wasn’t the best and got told it. You just have to take things on board and not really say anything back.

“There might be a temptation but you just don’t want to get involved. Just take what is said with a pinch of salt.

“You have to be able to accept it. Or you would be on suicide watch. Take on board criticism, try to learn.

“They (fans) have an opinion and everyone is entitled to those. I don’t want to be arguing back, even if I disagree. You can’t win with everyone.”

Bradford City's Edin Rahic

Such a level-headed approach is made all the more admirable by Miller only having left his teens behind a month ago.

Maybe his famous uncle, who spent the best part of 15 years refereeing in the Premier League, helped instil such thinking?

“The way he deals with those opinions might be different to me,” replied Miller, with a smile when asked about Halsey. “He might speak back more.

“My way to deal with it is not to get involved whatsoever.”

Danger man: Charlton Athletic's Lyle Taylor

Miller’s maturity extends to keeping at arm’s length something that most youngsters cannot live without. “I am not really into social media,” said the striker, who netted eight goals in 19 appearances last season after being loaned back to hometown club Bury by Middlesbrough.

“Everyone has opinions and if you read it too much, you might dwell on it.

“In the past at previous clubs, I read things that people said. It can get you down because you take it personally.

“No matter how thick-skinned you are, it can happen. The key is don’t get too caught up in the praise when doing well or too down when it is not going well.”

Any criticism aimed at Miller and his team-mates this season has been born of frustration at the wider picture surrounding City.

Come kick-off today against Charlton Athletic, no less than four head coaches will have passed through the home dugout at Valley Parade since the turn of the year and supporters do not like it.

Edin Rahic, Bradford’s joint chairman, has incurred most of that wrath for his day-to-day running of the club. This week, in an attempt to draw a line under the past, he issued a public apology to fans.

Whether it has the desired effect remains to be seen. For a start, co-owner Stefan Rupp made a similar pledge at the Player of the Year awards night in May.

“We have learned our lesson,” he promised only for the club to then embark on a summer that saw the untried Michael Collins promoted to head coach and a squad built via 17 new signings that is some distance from being strong enough to thrive in League One.

Those fans who feel Rahic has been too hands-on with his head coaches, a charge he denies, will also take some winning around.

A good run of results, however, can only help and Miller, still waiting for his first goal after eight appearances, is determined to do his bit.

“It is dead frustrating,” said the striker, sold by Bury to Boro in 2017. “I have always scored goals in my career. Fingers crossed, something clicks very soon as there is no better feeling than scoring goals. Nothing compares.

“I had a decent (strike rate) last season with Bury and I am still hoping to replicate that over this season. I want a few goals.

“Confidence plays a part and so does everyone clicking. Once that happens and we start to work out where everyone’s runs will be and things like that, the chances will come. With chances come goals.”

As for Rahic’s public apology, Miller added: “We are not really talking about that. As players, we try to distance ourselves from what is going on in the background.

“We hear stuff being said but it is in the background. But we try to focus on what you can affect. That means the pitch and, hopefully, we can put everything behind us against Charlton and get the win.”

Today’s clash with Charlton brings David Hopkin’s home bow as head coach. The Scot is guaranteed a warm reception by supporters desperately hoping he can be the man to arrest what has been an alarming decline during 2018.

Miller, meanwhile, is just determined to get those same fans firmly on side. “I came through at Bury,” he said. “So people had a bit of love for me anyway, as a local lad.

“But now I am at Bradford and not a local lad I have to try and win people round with my football ability, and not just where I was born.”