Bamber Bridge manager Jamie Milligan is the latest to feature in The Bosses’ Lounge. If you missed the first half of his interview, you can find it here.
In the second half, Jamie takes on the regular Q&A that goes with this feature, blending managerial and coaching outlooks, inspirations and lighter moments. Here we go…
When did you want to start coaching/managing?
It was when I did my knee, early-20s and I was out for about a year. I started doing my coaching badges and I opened my own coaching business and it just grew from there really. I really enjoy coaching; kids all the way up to adults. I think it’s been a good grounding for me, because there’s a lot of coaches and managers who go straight into it without having any real experience of coaching. You look at Steven Gerrard, and he’s done it brilliantly, because he’s had the Under-18s at Liverpool for a couple of years first, but some go straight into it without any experience. I’ve always wanted to have a go at management; I’ve done all my coaching badges and there’s no point doing that if you’ve no ambition to try it one day. Luckily enough, I’ve got the job at Bamber Bridge, which is a great club to start at.
Which training sessions do you enjoy leading the most?
More the possession sessions. I look through so many, on Twitter and everything, and I’ve got my own section of sessions that I know work, and I know lads will enjoy. There are sessions that I put on which I know lads don’t enjoy, but you have to do it. Any sort of sessions, though; I love being on the field with the lads.
Will you ever take part in training, in terms of actually being in the session as an active part, like an extra player?
I join in quite a bit, to be fair. I think the lads might be a little bit gutted when I’m on their team because they won’t get much running out of me! When we do running sessions, I’ll join in; I think the lads like that. They love the training, because it’s all with a ball; I’m not one of them where I’ll go ‘right, we’re doing 20 laps now,’ because it’s pointless.
Favourite ground that you’ve visited or would like to visit
I loved Goodison, but I’ve got to say Barcelona. I take my two lads once a year to go and watch them. I just love everything about the club; the structure of it all, from top to bottom. You’re watching Messi as well, which helps!
Favourite player to watch (past or present)
I loved Paul Gascoigne as a kid, and I was lucky because he came to Everton, and I got to play with him for a little bit. The nicest fella you could ever meet; he’d do anything for you. Always came into the changing room with the young lads and had a laugh. He was absolutely non-stop during the week. I remember one pre-season, we were doing a possession, like a big circle, so you’re one-on-one against somebody and you bounce off the outside, a bit of a fitness thing, and I was against him. I was like ‘I’m gonna have one here’! I was flying at the time but I was thinking ‘I’m not gonna get a touch here’; I think you’re in for about two or three minutes. He had his hand in my face, I didn’t touch the ball in three minutes, it was embarrassing, and that’s somebody at the end of his career. I was just thinking ‘oh my God, I’m miles off’. He was just a legend, it’s just a real shame what’s happened with him.
And how would you have sold the club to him, if you were trying to sign him for Bamber Bridge (in his prime)?!
I think with them sort of players, just to let them enjoy themselves. I see so many players, not saying as good as him, but that sort of maverick player, and then managers try and change them. There’s no point at all, you sign them for a reason, so just build your team around them and give them leeway. I think Fergie used to give Cantona the biggest leeway out of everyone and the lads were fuming about it, but he knew what he was doing and Cantona produced for him. I think you’ve just got to put your arm around those players and look after them; a bit like Richie (Allen) really with us. I’d probably have to stock up on the pies and a few beers with Gazza as well!
Pre-season tour anywhere in the world
I’d probably say Barcelona if it was gonna be a pre-season game schedule/training camp. If it was away with the lads, I’d probably say Vegas, easily. I went there last summer for my lad’s 21st; there was 15 of us. That was my first time in America and what a place that is.
Most challenging/frustrating part of your job? You have said before it’s leaving lads out, especially when you’ve known them previously.
Yeah, that’s the one, and the lads have been brilliant with it so far. I can see certain lads are gutted, but I think they like it when you go and speak to them and explain why. There’ll be some times where you don’t have time to, but as long as you explain why sometimes, I think you don’t lose them that way. The amount of times I’ve been dropped and you don’t get told, you’re a bit down. If a manager comes and speaks to you, you stay upbeat. That’s a bit tough, and it’s frustrating at Bamber that we don’t have massive crowds, because I’d love the lads to play in front of big crowds, but that’s something that we’ve probably got to work on.
Funniest player/coach you’ve worked with, or just one of the funniest. We’ve mentioned Gazza, so maybe an alternative…
Richard Brodie. He came to Fleetwood and oh my God, I’ve never met anyone like him in my life. He’s another one who’s the nicest lad ever, but around the training ground he would wind people up, he was a nightmare. I’ll never forget, at Fleetwood we used to have boxing competitions. What it was, someone got handed the title, so say Brodie had it, he had a belt and everything, in these horrible changing rooms, we had a ring man, music going on. It was brilliant, but if you got called out, you couldn’t say no, so say someone had pissed you off during the session, you’d say ‘right, you’re next,’ and you had to step up, no matter what. You were naked with just your slip on, there was no headshots, it was just three minutes of battering each other. I remember Brodie was a big part of that; he used to piss the lads off but he was brilliant, the lads loved him.
Most embarrassing moment as a manager/coach/player
Straight away I’m thinking when I was younger and I was sub for Everton. If it had happened now, I’d have got caned for it. The seats were the ones that flip up, and we scored, I was sub at the time and I jumped up, and as I’ve sat down my seat wasn’t there. I’ll never forget that, I got hammered, but there were hardly any cameras!
Your routine on a match day
I probably get there an hour/hour-and-a-half before everyone else. I’ll get everything written up that I need, so I’ll make sure the lads have got all their details they need; their jobs, set-pieces, the opposition. I’m a bit busy with that side of it, to be honest. There’s nothing left to chance for the lads, they know everything. Then the lads will come in, I’ll sit with them, a bit of banter and whatnot, do a team talk and then Hillsy will get them out there.
One singer/band or song you would sneak on to the team playlist
I stick mine on now and again, but I’m into all my old-school stuff, all my dance stuff and that. The boys don’t mind, they’re alright with it. At the minute, there’s one called ‘Concrete Angel,’ Gareth Emery, and the lads love it. We’ve got them in the group chat and they’ve all downloaded the app where we’ve set them runs to do and stuff like that, and that’s one of the tunes they always come back and say it’s a belter to run to.
Advice you remember getting that’s stuck with you
I go back to my youth-team manager and he was mad on hard work, no matter what you do, and the way you spoke to people, he was big on that as well. ‘Don’t be cheeky with the first team, always be polite,’ he brought us up really well as a group. He’d never let us drop a per cent, he was relentless with it. Everyone had jobs to do, I remember I was on first-team coaches’ boots, and obviously two players, so I had quite a hard job, but it was part of growing up. The boys got a chance to mix with the first-team lads and they’d throw boots at them if they weren’t clean, they had us up singing, and that sort of builds your character. It’s harsh at times, but it builds your character, and now I don’t like that they’ve got nothing to do. They’ve got a strut on them, and I don’t mind that if they can back it up, but you don’t see many backing it up!
If you could have some time with any manager, past or present
I love watching Guardiola, I think a lot of coaches do. I’d love to sit with him and ask him about why he does this and that. You look at things he does and think ‘I never even thought of doing that.’ I’d love to pick his brains, but for stories, (Brian) Clough would be good, wouldn’t he?
Any misconceptions about you as a manager/personality, myths you’d like to dispel, or something you wish people could understand a bit more?
I’ve been pretty straightforward with it all. I rarely fall out with people, I just sort of get on with lads. There was a manager last season who refused to shake my hand; it’s non-league football at the end of the day. But I don’t often fall out with people.
And finally, what’s the best thing about having this life around football? When you wake up and football’s your focus for the day, do you still get that same buzz as you always did?
Yeah, it’s that old saying, you don’t know what you’ve got until it gets taken away, do you? I think it’s a prime example where everyone that’s involved in football now, I think when they go back, it’s gonna make it so much better and to not take it for granted. I think after all this, there will be good that comes out of it, 100 per cent, with people’s attitudes, everything.
Interview by @chris_brookes