Neil Harris and David Livermore have both gained their UEFA Pro Licence – the highest coaching qualification yo can gain.
Millwall manager Harris and his assistant boss graduated on Wednesday after attending the last of eight residential visits to St George’s Park.
The duo have passed the corse alongside two attempts at League One promotion – achieving that goal with play-off final victory at Wembley against Bradford last month.
“It has been enlightening and enjoyable – but hard work at times with full-time commitments to the club,” said Harris. “It is a course set up and run by the FA. They are trying to give you an opportunity to be the best coach or manager you can.
“It is not just about coaching. You’ve got dealing with the media, player scenarios, which are really key, and the recruitment side of things. Every badge higher yoU go the better they get.
“A lot of it can be like learning to drive a car. They are giving you information all the time and reminders – try it this way or do it this way. The FA are brilliant. They may teach you everything you need to know but they allow you to put your own spin on it.
“You have to bring your own personality to it. They give you a basic infrastructure and ideas; knowledge the FA has accumulated over the years.
“I use my personality to coach. I’m quite personal, I like to talk to people individually. Some don’t like that, they want to make it a group effort and talk from afar.”
Last sUmmer saw Harris and Livermore head to France for the Toulon Tournament as a study visit.
“It was aboUt analysing performances – individually and as a team,” explained the Millwall boss. “Yoy had to analyse the offensive style of one side for 45 minutes and then do the same with the opposition in the second half.
“You’re taking notes, using an iPad, then you go off on your own for an hour and finally present your findings back to the team. It’s no different to what myself and David have been doing in the last two years, and before that on the academy side.
“There are always little aspects you can learn and brush up.”
Also on the same course were the likes of Charlton head of recruitment Steve Gallen, former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler, Derby manager Gary Rowett, Yeovil boss Darren Way, Blackpool’s Gary Bowyer plus ex-Arsenal Ladies and 92-capped England international Marieanne Spacey.
“Myself and David both feel it has brought us on as coaches and individuals,” said Harris. “Everyone is there for one reason – to improve.
“It is great to mix with those other people, it is a real blend.”
You often hear about managers going to watch top European sides train as a way to broaden their own knowledge.
That is not so easy when faced with an unrelenting fixture schedule.
“Time-wise I’ve just about had time to blow my nose in the last few years,” said Harris.
“Two play-off finals, 120 games of football running parallel to being on a course and away from family for two summers in a row. It has been difficult in that respect.
“Where I’m fortunate is that with someone like Sean Dyche there is always the opportunity to go and see him work at Burnley. We’ve got good relationships with clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea. It’s just finding the time to see people.
“I’ve spent time talking to Gary Bowyer – he has been a great source over the last couple of months. He’s had an identical season to us and it is far more beneficial for me than watching anybody train over a period of time.
“I also spoke to Kenny Jackett and drew on his experience of the 2009-10 season leading Up to Wembley. It is invaluable sharing those thoughts.
“I like watching other people. I’d look to do it going higher up but also down as well, to see how people do it there.
“That’s why football is such a great industry. Yes it can be cut-throat – there is a lot of paranoia in the game – bUt there is also a sharing of ideas and learning.”