ALEX Miller was at Rafael Benitez’s side as the Spaniard led Liverpool to the Champions League trophy for the first time in 21 years back in 2005.

So the former Rangers full-back has no doubts the Everton manager can help his new signing Nathan Patterson to make the step up to the Premier League and then go on and realise his enormous potential.

Miller was, like so many in the game in this country, pleased to see Scotland internationalist Patterson seal a £12m move from Ibrox to Goodison Park on Tuesday.

He appreciates it will be challenging for a youngster who has, for all the hype surrounding him, played just 32 games in senior football in the last two seasons to make the switch to England and justify his record-breaking transfer fee.  

The 20-year-old has hardly featured at club level during the 2021/22 campaign despite establishing himself as a starter with the national team; he has made just two Premiership starts in the last five months.  

He faces stiff competition for a first team place on Merseyside from Seamus Coleman, the vastly-experienced Republic of Ireland defender, and Jonjoe Kenny, the former Celtic loanee.

Everton are also struggling in the English top flight just now - they are currently hovering just above the relegation zone in 15th position – and supporters are unhappy with their poor form. 

But Miller, who was in the Liverpool dugout alongside Benitez when the Anfield club came from 3-0 down to beat AC Milan on penalties in the Champions League final in Istanbul in 2005, is certain he will both feature and flourish with the guidance of his renowned manager.

“It’s a fantastic move for Nathan,” he said. “He is an outstanding young prospect. I think he will play at Everton and I think he will play early. He needs to play games at his age and he will. Rafa needs a right back.

“Nathan looks to me as if he has still got a bit to learn when it comes to defending. But he has got many qualities going forward – he has a good engine, searing pace, decent height and can use both feet.

“He will be severely tested in the Premier League, which I believe is the top league in the world, but that will be a good thing for him. It will help to improve his game. 

“He has come on as a player very quickly at Rangers. But, no disrespect to Scottish football, he will be tested far more in England against a higher calibre of player. It will be a great learning process for him.

“Nathan will know after his first two or three games for Everton that it is a different level entirely. But he has the attributes now to go in and play at that level.”

The former Liverpool assistant added: “Playing under Rafa will certainly help him to develop. Rafa is very organised. His tactical set-up is rigid, there is no deviation from his game plan. Nobody is allowed to go off and do their own thing. He doesn’t stand for that.

“The tactical framework he sets out does not change. His players always know what the system is for each particular game and what the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition are. Nathan will find it straightforward to slot in to the Everton team.

“Rafa has been playing with a back five in a 5-4-1 formation recently. If he continues to play that way it will suit Nathan as he has played at wing back for Scotland this season and has excelled in that role.

“Rafa is an easygoing character as long as his players are working hard for him. I am sure that Nathan will be eager to prove himself. He has to dedicate himself to his profession over the next two or three years if he is going to play for Everton on a consistent basis and I am sure he will.”

Miller feels that Patterson, who could make his Everton debut in the FA Cup match against Hull City at the MKM Stadium today, is arriving at Goodison Park at a good time despite their difficulties and can make a positive early impression. 

“Everton started the season very well and then a few vital players picked up injuries,” he said. “They are not getting the results they want at the moment and there is a bit of pressure on everyone.

“But sometimes that is the best time for a new player to come in. The fans are looking for someone to bring some variety to their play and give the side a lift. If they start winning with Nathan in the team they will get behind him and he will gain confidence.”

Miller believes the presence of both Coleman and Duncan Ferguson, the former Dundee United, Rangers and Scotland striker who is Benitez’s assistant, at Goodison Park will help Patterson to adapt quickly to life at Everton.  

“I know that Nathan will be vying with Coleman for the right back berth in the Everton side,” he said. “But I actually think having him there will help Patterson a lot.

“Rafa brought Coleman back in to his side at left wing back against Brighton at the weekend and I believe he got bit of stick from supporters as a result. But that will not bother the player.

“He is an experienced internationalist and is such a good lad as well. I know he will encourage his new team mate and give him invaluable advice.

“You also have big Duncan Ferguson there. He will help his fellow Scot. He is very highly thought of down there. I am sure he will go out of his way to make sure that his countryman settles.

“He was in exactly the same position as him once and will have an appreciation of the challenges that Nathan faces.

“You have to remember Nathan is still just a young kid. He didn’t play 30 games for Rangers during his time at Ibrox. But he has definitely got good qualities. I think he is going to do really well at Everton.”