Millwall’s new man Joe Edwards has plenty of head coach experience – and learned off Chelsea’s elite names

Joe Edwards has talked about his extensive head coach experience after taking on that job at Millwall.

The Lions confirmed the 37-year-old’s appointment yesterday afternoon.

Edwards will take his first session with the Millwall players this morning with Saturday’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday his first match in charge.

Edwards had more than two decades of academy coaching at Chelsea before being part of their senior management team under both Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel.

He joined Lampard at Everton, taking on the role of number two, before being appointed England U20 head coach in August.

“People will talk about it being my first time as a head coach at senior level,” Edwards told Millwall TV+. “At Chelsea when I was working in the academy at Chelsea my role was predominantly working as a head coach – right from the U18s, with the FA Youth Cup, to the U23s and more recently with England. There is some head coach experience there – plenty.

“The vast majority of my coaching that is what I was. I would be the one setting the direction of where we were going and making decisions, substitutions and co-ordinating with staff.

“I feel well-prepared, in that sense. I know it is going to be a bigger beast here.

“People will know that unfortunately for managers at Chelsea in the past and historically in a really successful era that they would lose their jobs fairly often. The realistic benefit to people like myself in that position is that we saw a lot of different managers work. I’ve seen several world-class managers up close and personal.

“Not just in good times, seeing people win Premier Leagues and all sorts of trophies, but also the tough times – as a young coach you realise how lucky you are to get this opportunity and access. You always look at it and think ‘okay, what can I learn and take from that?’

“It’s easy when it is positive but when things unravel and it is tough times you step back and think ‘what happened there and how did that play out – because six months ago everything was great?’ I’m a very reflective person. I like to learn and to ask questions.

“In more recent years when I’ve been part of the first-team set-up I’ve extended that with the top managers I’ve worked with – Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel. Just living it with them in those high-pressure environments. At both ends. I’ve been in team meetings in dressing rooms before a Champions League final but then you go to Everton and we’re in a relegation battle – there are games where we’re five points in the relegation game going into the game knowing we have to win it.

“They are they type of things that give you experience. Until you go through it you’re not quite sure what you’re going to learn from it.”

Edwards will look to put his own stamp on a Millwall side that had worked with predecessor Gary Rowett for four years.

Edwards said: “If you look at the Championship this season then the style of play means there are far more possession-based teams in it. If you look at the likes of Southampton and Leicester. In the recent home game against Southampton it was tough. Leicester can dominate games like that.

“The profile of teams and style of football is what you typically expect to see at the top level of the game. It’s starting to filter into the Championship a lot more.

“In terms of coaching experience, although I’ve seen loads of different philosophies and playing styles – ways managers like to work – of course I have my own beliefs and preferences that if you said to me ‘what do you want one of your teams to look like’ I have a picture of that.

“But what you get through youth development and working through the academy is a strong understanding that coaching, at its best, is getting the best out of players and staff that you’re working with. You get the best out of people and put them in systems and coach them to really see them flourish. Ultimately the product of that is the team getting success.

“That will be the balance here. We have to recognise there are a lot of good foundations with these players and around the squad. Of course I’m coming in as a new coach with a freshness and new ideas but we’re not going to try and reinvent the squad and revamp it in a few weeks or a few games.”

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