It did not seem unusual that the man on the other end of the line was his boss, Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne. Anticipation and an uncanny ability to read what was coming next were two of Miller's hallmarks during a peerless Pittodrie playing career, but this time the club's director of football development had no inkling of what was coming his way. Milne invited Miller to his home for a 5pm meeting. That was to last only a few minutes, yet long enough to bring the curtain down on a working association between Miller and Aberdeen which began almost 40 years ago.
He spoke publicly about his sacking for the first time yesterday, describing shock and disappointment at Milne's decision but stopping short of criticism. Miller believes the owner was wrong to dismiss him and that only time will tell if other boardroom changes were shrewd or misguided.
He does not know what his future holds as a football man in a one-club city, but it will not descend into bitterness over his treatment. The announcement was poorly handled and disrespectful – the club's official statement thanked four other departing board members but expressed no gratitude to Miller – but the 57-year-old was philosophical. "I was just me and him and he gave me the news," said Miller of Milne. "It wasn't a very long meeting. I don't think you need a long meeting when the club doesn't want you any more or doesn't think it needs you. That's how it was done.
"I have no problem with how it was handled as far as that's concerned. I have no problem with the club and I don't want to leave under a cloud or with any animosity. I want to wish them the best for the future. But I am surprised at what's happened and disappointed that I haven't been able to see it through, there is still a fair amount of work to be done in that area."
He had spent seven years as director of football, including responsibilities for first-team duties such as contracts, until his role was redefined last June. He became director of football development charged with bringing young players through to the first team. Ryan Jack, Fraser Fyvie, Clark Robertson and Mitch Megginson all appeared regularly last season, convincing Miller that he could defend himself against accusations that his impact was limited and his salary an expense the club could not justify.
"I found the criticism a wee bit frustrating because I don't think some people understood the role. It's an unusual role in Scottish football. I don't think it sits easily in Scotland and I've said that over the years. People don't understand the amount of time, work and thought that goes into the development side. The negotiations of contracts were all my responsibility for seven years and then for the last year I was solely on the development side. People will have their own opinion on my time as director of football – we had some good years and some bad years – but on the development side you just have to look at the statistics and the number of young players we were producing.
"If it was solely the chairman's decision then I have to accept that but I felt that department [football development/the youths] was working very effectively. If it wasn't working then I could see why, because football is a results-driven business, but that department has produced players. There wasn't much of a discussion about why I was let go and I wasn't too inclined to delve into it too much. Once the decision is made I would almost say it's like a refereeing decision: once it's made you just have to accept it . . ."
That line came with a loud Miller laugh – he knows his reputation for being second-to-none when it came to challenging and pressurising officials on his team's behalf – but in general he has been understandably flat since being made redundant under cost-cutting measures. "It took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting that and I hadn't been party to any discussions about the shape of the club going forward; it was a surprise."
There has been speculation in the city that Milne changed his board – appointing George Yule and removing Miller, Martin Gilbert, Hugh Little, Ken Matheson and Chris Gavin – as some sort of precursor to the July 4 vote on allowing newco Rangers into the SPL next season. Miller dismissed that theory although he admitted he had been out of the loop in terms of the changes. "It's very difficult when you haven't been party to the thought-process behind it is. The chairman has come to that conclusion. If the chairman decides that then it will be followed through. I hope he's got it right. I wish the club well and I hope they find a successful formula both on and off the park.
"I wouldn't have any problem going back to Pittodrie. I wouldn't have any problem going back to the club and speaking to the people I know in the corporate areas or doing any media work there, or going back to the club full stop. It's been a big part of my life, I've enjoyed just about every minute of it, even the challenging periods. It's a club that's very close to me and I hope it will remain close to me.
"I won't let this eat away at me. I am just surprised that I'm in this position. But I've not problem with the club, I will say my cheerios – I've said a few since Monday and Tuesday – and I'll go down and speak to some of the development people to just say thanks for their support. Craig [Brown] and Archie [Knox] as well. I wish them all the best for the future too.
"I don't know what I'll do next. I have enjoyed my recent time at the club, the development side of it has been exciting. If there was an opportunity outwith Aberdeen then I would consider moving away from the city but there aren't too many opportunities inside football. If something did come up I would be happy to consider it but I haven't really given it too much thought.
"When you get news like I got on Monday it takes you a wee bit of time to digest it and work out what to do with it. That's where I am now."