Keith Millen says that all his football experiences – including the Swedish match and time in Blackpool with Ian Holloway and the Oystons – help him prepare for his latest challenge.
The new Carlisle United coach brings a varied CV to Brunton Park as he prepares to lead the team for the first time tomorrow.
Millen’s most recent managerial assignment came to Scandinavia with a year-long period at Orgryte.
This followed a stinginess with Halmstads, on the recommendation of the ex-England boss and South London-born Roy Hodgson.
Millen, who spoke about his way to Sweden, said: “I had been the manager of Bristol City [in 2010-11] and after leaving I wanted to continue to be the boss. It was not like I thought, “it’s not for me”.
“The reason I did not return to management was because I had the opportunity to go to Crystal Palace with Ian Holloway as his assistant.
“Crystal Palace is my home team that I have supported all my life; it was my dream job. Then we were promoted to the Premier League, and there is no chance, if someone had offered me a managerial job, I would have left. It was a lot. of my career that I would not change.
“I learned so much there. When I left, I did a few pieces at other clubs and then got a chance in Sweden.
“It was Roy Hodgson who called me. It was his first club, called Halmstads, which he first managed when I think he was around 28.
He said: ‘I think this will be a good experience for you – with your way of working I think you will fit well’.
“When I met them, a bit like the conversations I’ve had here, it was a case of ‘This is me, this is how I work and what I want to do’, and they were like ‘good’ – it was a clean sheet, a case of “Come in and do it”.
“It was great for me during those two years. It was a different culture, and I learned a lot about dealing with people, but that’s how I always tried to look at my career to try to develop myself.
“I did it, and I’ve also done an FA coaching training, which I still do. It makes you look at the game in a slightly different way; you evaluate yourself as a coach.
“It’s great for me. I’m telling young coaches, this is what I’ve learned from my experience, but I’m looking at myself and thinking, ‘I can probably do better.’
“It has been good for me too, and if I can, if I have the time, I will continue with it. All this has built me up to wanting to cope again. That is how I have ended up here.”
Millen ruled Bristol City for a year and, before moving to the Palace, experienced Blackpool’s rise to the top spot under Holloway – and the controversial Oyston ownership.
“I had just left Bristol City and Ian Holloway asked me to come up and help him in Blackpool.
“It was an experience, it was the period when Karl Oyston was responsible. It opened my eyes to many things. A great period for Blackpool, and what Ian achieved … you can tell some incredible stories.
“For me, an experience is an experience. Whether it’s good or bad, you have to take something from it.
“There were things that happened in Blackpool … I could not believe some of the things I saw there, but Ian managed to turn it around to be positive and successful there.
“I took things from it.”
Croydon-born Millen said United’s situation is not a problem for him.
He added: “I have a well-settled family life. My children are a little older now and have their own lives.
“The train up here from London is an easy journey anyway. It’s not like I’m going to finish training on a Tuesday and fly down the highway.
“I do not do that. I was in Sweden and was there all the time.”
Millen added that any manager is a product of his experience – but he will also stamp his own individual qualities at United.
He has worked under Tony Pulis, Neil Warnock and Alan Pardew and added: “I have taken pieces from everyone during my career, some good pieces and some pieces that I do not think fit my style.
“You have to realize who you are as a manager. All the people I have worked with have their own strengths but Keith Millen is Keith Millen.
“I have a world of knowledge and that’s why I’m happy to be here. I want the opportunity to help the players and the club to get better.
“When I came back to England from Sweden, I felt that I wanted to join another football club in the Football League. I want to be able to carry on and use all my experiences and it did not worry me one bit about where it was in the country.
“I think Carlisle is a club that has potential even if it is not in a good place at the moment. Hopefully it is just forward and up from here.”