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Charlton’s Dean Holden namechecks Forest boss, former Crystal Palace manager and ex-Villa man as big managerial influences

Charlton boss Dean Holden has spoken about some of the biggest managerial influences on him since he started his coaching journey.

The 43-year-old retired from playing in 2014 and has had spells in charge at Oldham Athletic and Bristol City, as well as a very brief spell as caretaker at Stoke City, before his latest posting in SE7.

Holden told the South London Press that Dean Smith, Sam Allardyce and Steve Cooper have all been major helps.

“Dean Smith, I met him at the right time of my career,” said Holden. “I’ve known him just over 10 years. Him and Rich O’Kelly were outstanding for me at Walsall, in terms of my early coaching journey.

“They were so comfortable with a senior player being in team meetings, staff meetings – being around it all.

“I learned five years of work within a year. I’d be in the staff meeting, planning training and then training. I’d take a coaching session at the end of that. Sometimes I’d play in the reserves and sometimes I’d coach from the pitch, sometimes I’d coach as the coach. I was able to make a lot of my early mistakes in a first-team environment.

“It was a bit of a fast-track I suppose. Everything I’d experienced until meeting Dean at 32 or 33 was old school. John Sheridan, Big Sam, Brian Talbot, John Hughes at Falkirk – they were all classed as old-school managers, that’s just how we operated.

“I always wondered whether  you could coach like Dean did – more empathetic, like your Artetas, Potters and Gareth Southgates. Up until then I was questioning it, because I’d never seen it at first-team level, I’d seen it at academy level.

Dean Smith
Crystal Palace v Norwich City, Premier League, Selhurst Park, 28 December 2021

“That gave me real confidence that I can be myself in this industry and create an environment that I want to, rather than something I wouldn’t have been comfortable in. I’m a big believer in people and improving people.

“Michael O’Neill was great. I learned a lot off him tactically. He’s an excellent operator.

“Big Sam is great. If the house was on fire, he’d be the one I’d ring. Because there are no niceties like ‘how’s your missus?’. It’s [imitates Allardyce’s voice] ‘What do you want?’. Brilliant. Do this, do that. Get your captain in, get your leadership group in – all that – see what they think.

“More recently Steve Cooper, ever since I got this job, has been very good with his support but also spotting situations – being open and honest with his advice.

Charlton’s Dean Holden namechecks Forest boss, former Crystal Palace manager and ex-Villa man as big managerial influences - market updates UK - Entertainment - Public News Time
Swansea City manager Steve Cooper speaks to the media after the Sky Bet Championship playoff semi final, second leg match at Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Picture date: Saturday May 22, 2021.

“I just got to know him. I got in touch with him at Swansea, he’d just left England. I liked the way he was working. I went to see him at Forest, prior to coming here. It was the first time I’d met him. He’s not my best mate, or anything like that, but he’s good to get advice off.

“He took over at Forest where after seven or eight games they had not won a game. I took over at Christmas, so slightly different situations. Caretaker Steven Reid was in charge and they [Forest] beat Huddersfield. He took over on the Monday after a good win – even though the previous manager had been sacked. He gave good advice because I came in after the Brighton game, which was a positive night for the club.

“He was good at giving me a steer on those first few days, get that leadership group together and get in all the players individually. I spent some good time with them individually. Not all in here, because a lot don’t want to come in the gaffer’s office. Sometimes it can be a bit too official. Just walking around the training ground for a stroll or take them upstairs for a cup of tea. Just try to fast-track that relationship building, which is not easy.

“That’s why I have to be quite vulnerable with them, to make it a safe and open environment. I’m being so open about my journey that I’m getting that back from the players. We ain’t got any time to waste. We’ve not got a week’s trip to Spain. That’s where the time is being spent, away from the training sessions.”

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