By Richard Cawley
Adam Barrett is studying for his UEFA Pro Licence – with Millwall boss Neil Harris providing his recommendation to get on the course.
The 38-year-old, who was appointed to the Lions backroom team in March 2017, has recently returned from a six-day trip to France for the Toulon Tournament.
It is part of Barrett’s studies as he looks to achieve the same coaching level as Harris and assistant boss David Livermore.
Barrett’s group includes new Rangers boss Steven Gerrard, Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel, former Red Devils academy coach Paul McGuinness, now a national coach developer at the FA, and ex-Arsenal first-team coach Neil Banfield.
“We watched one of the England under-21 games [in Toulon], watched them train and had a question-and-answer with their manager Aidy Boothroyd,” said Barrett.
“We were put in twos and got given tasks – you had to watch and analyse certain players. You had to code the game and review it. It’s full-on but brilliant – nine in the morning until nine at night. You are reviewing and challenging each other. You are given a topic and you have to go away for five hours to research it and then give a big presentation in front of the group.”
Barrett saw it all in a football career that spanned just shy of two decades and took in nine different clubs, including a short stay at Crystal Palace in the 2010-11 season. He played over 700 matches before his retirement, just a month before he arrived at Millwall.
“I had a long career and played under a lot of good managers – don’t get me wrong that puts you in good stead,” he said. “But when you do this it just opens your mind a little. It makes you take a step back. You look into things in greater detail.
“There are lots of different aspects covered – media, analysis, high-pressure environments and what makes high-performing teams deliver. We’ve got Paul and Warren Joyce in our group, who worked under Sir Alex Ferguson for 17 years. Neil has been at Arsenal for 21 years under Arsene Wenger. Steven Gerrard and Schmeichel have been at the top, top level.
“It’s trying to teach all the aspects of coaching and managing. Football has moved on a million times from when I started playing.
“Out of all the courses I have done, the Pro Licence has been the best one I have done. The A licence is more coaching-based.
“They have made it more elite now. Not many people get Pro Licences now. You have to be invited on, then you need a letter of recommendation and then a three-day preparation course to actually get on the course. You can drop out at stage one, if you don’t then you pass to stage two, pass and you do a two-day selection process at St George’s where you are constantly tested. You do tests in maths and English. On the third process there were 45 people and that got knocked down to 24 on our course.
“It’s good, we’re trying to bring in more British managers into the game and improve them. They have got to make it challenging. That’s why it is so important the gaffer [Harris] is doing really well. We want people like Gerrard and Frank Lampard [appointed Derby boss recently] to go and succeed.
“Graham Potter [new Swansea manager] came in and did a talk on our second module. He was at Ostersund’s in Sweden. I remember playing against him at Bury. The more these guys can do good jobs can only be good for the English game. Hopefully we’re on the right track.”
Harris turns 41 next month with Livermore celebrating his 38th birthday in May. It is a young, hungry and ambitious management team at Millwall.
Barrett could join them in gaining the highest coaching qualification possible in the game.
“The gaffer put me forward,” he explained. “When you do the A licence you get the tutors who will say: ‘I think that will suit you, I think you should go for that’.
“You always get feedback after your course. They might say: ‘I feel you need to apply this for a couple of years in an academy environment’. You have a mentor and they follow you through the process. They felt the Pro Licence would be good for me.
“When I joined Millwall I said it was what I wanted to do and the gaffer was like: ‘Great, I’ll recommend you’. He wrote a letter saying why he felt I should do it and then I had to do a video interview to put my case across.
“When you’re a player you have done no school work. Now you’re back in the classroom and it’s like you’re learning again.”
Is management for Barrett? He makes it clear that it is not something on his immediate horizon.
“First and foremost Neil and David have given me a fantastic opportunity to come in and be part of his team. The transition from player to coach has been magnificent. I’m really, really enjoying my time at the football club.
“I’m learning lots from all the staff. The fact it is enjoyable shows in how we work and how far we have come.
“Even when I was a player I did see myself eventually getting into management, yeah. There’s an ambition there. Longer-term it is where I see myself.
“One day I would like to have a crack at it, without a doubt. You never know in football. I love working for the gaffer – he and David have been fantastic with me. I’m fully focused on my role.
“But football doesn’t last forever at places and things change, so I do see further down the line that is where my ambition would be.”
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