David O’Leary tried to force the hand of Villa chairman Doug Ellis, and Milner made the right noises in the Midlands to encourage a deal. But it didn’t happen because Ellis started to doubt his manager’s transfers, and wouldn’t back him with the £3m Newcastle wanted.
Milner is now happy to forget his Aston Villa option.
Milner: ‘I’m delighted to be back. It was fantastic to be playing every week at Villa but Newcastle is a great club and, as far as I was concerned, it was only ever going to be for a year. It’s great to be back and I’m desperate to get games and to help this club to enjoy a successful season. I just want to play for Newcastle.
‘I’ll play wherever the manager puts me, I just want to play. I can play on the right or the left – it doesn’t matter to me – or I can play up front. I have done it before and I will do it again, I’m happy to do whatever is asked of me, as long as I get a game. You are only ever going to show your best form when you are playing every week. I got that at Leeds and I got it at Aston Villa last season but I have been in and out during my time at Newcastle.
‘You need to be playing week in, week out to get into the swing of things and get up some confidence – hopefully, having come back, I can get back to my best and show the fans here the form I showed at Villa last season.
‘We have got to be confident with the players we have. We go into every game expecting to score and, with the quality that we have got here, we should be able to go there and get a goal. We just have to keep it tight at the back. The first leg is out of the way now – it was always going to be tough because the first match back always is and Lillestrom are well into their season. But it’s all about quality and we know the qualities we have.
‘Everyone wants to be playing at the highest level they possibly can against the best players around and the Uefa Cup is a big competition. Some of the best players in the world play in it.
‘The club worked so hard at the end of last season to get a chance in Europe. I have played in the Uefa Cup before, it’s a great competition and a club like this has to be in it. We have worked hard and we have to make it count now. This is a big game and hopefully it will kickstart the season.’