Hatters boss keen to pick the brains of former play-off winners Ian Holloway and Steve Cooper
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Hatters boss Rob Edwards has been picking the brains of some previous Championship play-off winners, including his old manager Ian Holloway and current Nottingham Forest chief Steve Cooper ahead of what will be a first foray into the end of season lottery as a number one himself this evening.
It was Holloway who was in charge of a Blackpool side containing Edwards that reached the Premier League back in the 2009-10 campaign, as after defeating Nottingham Forest 6-4 on aggregate in the semi-final, they then went on to triumph 3-2 over Cardiff City in an action packed final, Charlie Adam with the winner.
That was the first of two triumphs for the former Bristol Rovers and QPR boss, as he also took Crystal Palace to the promised land in 2012-13, with a 1-0 success over Watford at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Cooper, meanwhile, has tasted success more recently than most, his Forest team reaching the top flight last term after seeing off Luton’s conquerors Huddersfield Town 1-0 at the home of football.
On getting advice from others who have been there and done it, Edwards said: “I’ve spoken to lots of people over the last few weeks since we’ve known, but then I think we’ve got a really experienced group of staff as well that I can talk to on a daily basis to ask questions, air any concerns, talk about stuff.
"We try and make the right decisions, but I’ve tried to lean on a lot of people who have had that experience.
"I’ve spoken to some managers who have experienced it and been through it in recent years as well.
"My previous manager Ian Holloway, who guided us through when we were at Blackpool, to Steve Cooper who did it last year.
"I’ve leaned on a lot of people, but ultimately we’ve got to make the decisions.”
Going into more detail on just what kind of discussions he had with the duo, Edwards continued: “With Ollie, I was walking the dog, we had a good hour or so on the phone and it’s always nice to talk to him.
"We reflected a little bit on the time about 13 years ago when he did it, but I was picking his brains a little bit on how managed this period now, knowing with three games to go how we try and plot this.
"Keeping players fit, fresh, do I make changes? Things like that.
"I just wanted to pick his brains on stuff, it’s interesting to get his thoughts.
"He talked a lot about keeping momentum and keeping going, it’s always a fascinating conversation talking to him.
"Steve is really good too, I just wanted to try and get into his head a little bit how he went about it last season.
"He did three play-offs in a row, two at Swansea, so even though he’s still a fairly new manager himself, there’s not many more experienced than him about handling these situations.
"He was really good, talking about everything, the organisation, even things like making sure that tickets are done before a certain time, travel, hotels, just everything.
"He’s brilliant at all that sort of stuff as well as the grass and dealing with the players, so they were really good.
"I’ve spoken to lots of people, I’m lucky I’ve got a few mentors I can lean on and talk to.
"I kind of know which way I want to go, it’s just to get some ideas and ask as well, as I don’t know everything, I don’t pretend to.
"So it’s nice to be able to speak to people who have been there before and experienced it.”
One thing that Edwards won’t try to do though is replicate Holloway’s pre-match antics though ahead of the first game against Sunderland this evening.
On the talks he used to receive as a player before kick-off, he said: "That was my favourite thing about him.
"Some of it was whacky, he got us promoted and we went to Old Trafford on the final day.
"I’d been on loan because I didn't play much in the Premier League season, I went on loan to Norwich and we got promoted there which was amazing.
"I came back for the final few games of the season at Blackpool and I can’t really remember what he said, but his speech before the game was incredible.
"I wanted to run out and run through a brick wall even though I wasn’t involved that day.
"I remember asking him after, ‘did you plan it?’
"He’s very emotive when he talks and it was a really passionate speech and it was really, really good.
"I think it did the trick, we got into the lead but we just made United angry and unfortunately couldn't quite get over the line that day, but one of his big strengths is his communication
“I try and be Rob Edwards, I could never be Ian Holloway, no-one can, he’s unique.
"I wouldn’t try to be, I’ll just be me."
When asked just what words of wisdom he will impart on his players before they head out to do battle at what will be a sold out Stadium of Light though, he added: “Go out there and run around lads, go and enjoy it!
"We talk about being brave and a non-negotiable for us is work-rate and the basics.
"We’ll have our tactical plan but I think you can see when the lads are on the field, they give absolutely everything and that’s the very least they can do.
"So it will be about that but I don't think I’m going to need to say too much before these games.”