Like Frank Sinatra vowed in 1969, Bamber Bridge boss Jamie Milligan wants to do management ‘my way.’
40-year-old Milligan took over at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium in December, leaving his full-time playing days behind him at hometown side AFC Blackpool thanks to a second chance.
“I had a decision to make whether I needed to stop playing,” revealed the man who replaced Joey Collins over three months ago.
“I’ve signed on as a player as well, but I went for the job [at Bamber Bridge] when it came up before , so they offered me it this time and I thought it was a perfect time to come and stop playing completely.”
He was considered a favourite for his current job when his own former manager at Brig Neil Reynolds departed in October 2018 but was overlooked in favour of Mick Taylor.
In the dugout, Milligan won three of his first five games and has guided the club away from a relegation battle in the Northern Premier League.
A highlight of his reign came midway through February, as his side beat former his employers FC United of Manchester 3-0 at home, so it’s no wonder Milligan is revelling in the role.
“It’s been brilliant, I’ve really enjoyed it,” he beamed.
“There have been bits which have been a bit of an eye-opener away from the football side of it which I’m learning about.
“The football side has been brilliant, the players have really bought into what exactly we’re trying to do with them, and they’re working hard which is the main thing.”
Milligan had a full-time playing career which spanned 12 different clubs.
It started out at Everton before he most notably made 200 appearances for Fleetwood, helping them rise to the Football League, amid other spells as a seasoned non-league midfielder.
Now, however, the former England under-18 international faces a new set of challenges with Bamber Bridge – both on and off the pitch.
“The football side takes care of itself, it’s what I’ve done all my life,” he revealed.
“It’s the budget side of it; keeping inside the budget, getting loan players in and sorting all of the paperwork out. There are loads to do behind the scenes.
“The most difficult one, for me, has been dropping players, lads who I’ve played with and am mates with has been the hardest bit.”
Like most young managers, Milligan is keen to make his own brand but took has some inspiration from one old gaffer, the current Tranmere Rovers manager.
“I’ve spoken to Micky Mellon, who was my manager at Fleetwood, quite a bit. I think he does things right.
“I’ve had a lot of good managers but I’ve never wanted to copy anyone. I want to be my own manager and do it my way.
“So, if it fails, it fails, but it’s going alright at the moment.”
Having been just four points above the drop zone, Milligan has made his mark by taking his team 11 clear going into the suspended spring period.
It might not be Nice ‘n’ Easy but he will have High Hopes to go All The Way.