Alex Aldridge reckons it was vital that Millwall made their search for a new boss just as thorough as their 2019 process before new chairman James Berylson opted for Joe Edwards.
The Lions appointed the 37-year-old as their new head coach on Monday.
American businessman Berylson has stepped up to become chairman after his father John was killed in a road accident in July.
Gary Rowett was manager at Millwall for four years before leaving by mutual consent last month.
“It is an education opportunity when you are able to openly meet with managers and coaches – so it’s really important to speak to a variety as there’s always something to take from each meeting,” said Aldridge, the Lions’ director of football operations and recruitment.
“There were other people in Joe’s mould and some of them we would have met purely knowing it was a relationship builder for the future.
“There were people we seriously considered this time around that we met and had gentle conversations with in 2019 when Neil Harris left. They were on the periphery of things four years ago but more credible this time around, partly because we started a relationship with them and it was a conversation to refer back to.
“The pool of candidates is partly determined by who is out of work at the time – you can’t really control that – but you can have eyes on other people and be aware if a manager is doing a good job at another club, in a different league or with a national association.
“I’m glad we stuck to our plan. We decided the day Gary left that we would take a minimum of four games and part of that was because we were really comfortable with Adam (Barrett) taking the team and we wanted to give him a genuine opportunity.
“We had faith in the staff and players. We didn’t feel like there was an immediate sense of crisis that we needed to bring someone in – far from it really.
“We felt that what we put in place in 2019 when we appointed Gary worked well. It’s well-known that when Neil Harris left he spoke very highly of Gary and recommended him for the job but there was still a process. Steve (Kavanagh, chief executive) and I met around 12 candidates in 2019.
“While Gary was probably quite an obvious appointment and clearly was a strong one, based on what he went on to achieve, it was a result of a very thorough process. We used some different tools and measures to make sure we were covering all bases.
“Hopefully if you get this right you’re not doing it too often.
“That was one of the reasons we decided to take our time. It was a great opportunity for James to meet different managers and to understand a little bit more about that market – the types that are out there. James was really keen to see a mix of candidates.
“Steve and I worked through the first filter and then James got more involved.
“In Joe the chairman felt that connection and excitement.”
Leicester City, Leeds United and Southampton – the trio relegated from the Premier League – are all in the top four.
Millwall’s 1-0 loss to the Saints last weekend means they are eight points behind sixth-placed Preston.
“The division is very strong this year and this appointment presented us with a couple of different courses of direction,” said Aldridge.
“I think people recognise that Joe is a slightly different route and maybe it is a case of changing tact to come again.
“This is our seventh season since we got promoted and it’s important that we are looking to the future and building the club to be successful at the top-end of the Championship in a sustainable way.”
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