How we landed Rowett, by chief

Millwall were pretty sure who they wanted to be the next manager after Neil Harris resigned.

But they wanted to make sure – and learn as much as possible about all the candidates before making their choice.

More than 10 candidates were interviewed – some overseas via Skype.

Now Den chief executive Steve Kavanagh has revealed the processes the club went through, before picking Gary Rowett as their new boss this month.

The board knew of Rowett’s success at Burton, Birmingham and Derby – and his availability.

But they had to draw up plans and preparations for the appointment process.

Kavanagh said: “We did not have a preconceived list when Neil resigned – we were starting from scratch.

“Replacing him had not been high on the agenda.

“It did come as a surprise – but once we started to get our heads around it we pushed ahead. You always keep an eye out for people who might fit the bill because things change fast in football.

“Gary Rowett had good Championship experience, is still a young manager and was available. We were all aware of that. I met him very quickly. But we were keen to make sure that the market was fully tested. Employing a manager isn’t something you do very often – some clubs more often than others.”

Kavanagh had not appointed a manager since Phil Brown at Southend in 2013.

“We needed to get the process right,” he said. “We spoke to more than 10 people, some by Skype because they were overseas, but mostly based here. There were others who were more obvious names that were out there.

“We made a point of meeting young up-and-coming coaches who maybe weren’t yet ready for the hot seat, but further down the road they might be. Maybe that process has helped them, too.”

It took a week to come to a shortlist. Chairman John Berylson interviewed the final candidates – including Adam Barrett – before the Brentford game.

Kavanagh said: “We knew we would have him in charge for that game to provide stability in the dressing room. Adam is an excellent coach and was good in his interview.”

The interview panel included head of recruitment Alex Aldridge and academy director Scott Fitzgerald.

“Scott has been a manager and an interim manager and he knows about Millwall,” said the chief executive. “We had a number of second round interviews to make sure we knew all about them and they got to know us.

“We did see people who are currently in jobs as well as those who are not. You have to do that to get the best man.

“It had to be the right fit and they had to understand the Millwall family and the club’s DNA.

“We still came back to where we had started because Gary was the best man – he interviewed very well and it was clear he was the best man available at this moment and we were delighted to appoint him.

“He had an excellent time at Birmingham, taking them from 22nd in the table to the edge of the play-offs. He was dismissed after that but the club went downhill, which showed how well he had done.

“He also had a fantastic record at Burton, taking them from League Two.

“His experience of the Championship was also vital. That came through in his interview.”

Berylson is not trigger-happy and that was an attraction for all the candidates.

“Stability is an important attraction,” said Kavanagh. “John has been chairman for 14 years. He believes in having a stable environment for the manager is the best way to get the maximum out of the club.”

Millwall’s highly successful academy is also crucial.

“Gary knows the academy is an important pathway,” said Kavanagh. “He has seen what Ben Thompson can do and is aware of other youngsters. We discussed two lads that left recently – he wanted to know why we were trading. We told him they would not sign deals so we had no choice.

“We had good conversations about not trading assets from underneath him. We want to see our youngsters coming through – that’s one of the reasons why Scott Fitzgerald was involved.”

Each candidate was also asked how they would have handled the last three games. Kavanagh, who knew Rowett as a player at Charlton, said: “We are not daft – Gary’s technical knowledge is going to be better than most, so it’s very interesting to see different perspectives on those games to see how their minds work and how they see our squad.

“It was right to pause and take our time and talk to people and make sure we had the best man available in the market.

“We are really realistic about where the club is. We grow in small steps, building on foundations that are already there. It is crucial we do not blow our brains out to get promoted, but of course we aspire to be in the Premier League – if you don’t you shouldn’t be in football.

“But we’re not going to spend huge. It is all about growing with a stable environment. Gary is keen to be part of that.

“It is fantastic how the staff and Gary and everyone have come together so quickly.

“He needed to get in and see the camaraderie. “When new managers come in, it can be disruptive and distorting. Some staff might not be working in the right direction – but none of that is the case here, so Gary has had a fantastic start.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *