MIKEY HARRIS reflected on his ‘challenging’ transition from first-team to youth-team coaching but insisted: I’ve loved every minute of it.
Harris departed his role as Salisbury City boss last summer to fill the vacant Academy head coach position at boyhood club Pompey – but only after he had made national headlines at the troubled non-league side.
It has been a fantastic year and I have loved every minute of it, especially seeing how the boys have come on individually.Pompey Academy coach Mikey Harris
Aged 28, Harris became English football’s youngest full-time manager at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium when he was promoted from his position as assistant boss in July 2013.
He led the Whites to an impressive 12th-place finish in the Conference Premier (2013-14) but left the club as they were expelled from Conference football altogether for failing to pay their debts.
The Wiltshire side have since reformed as Salisbury FC under the management of Pompey Hall of Fame inductee Steve Claridge.
Harris, meanwhile, has adjusted to life in charge of the Blues’ youngsters.
He said: ‘I think at first I found it quite challenging because of the change in dynamic from working at first-team level to development level.
‘At first-team level, it is all about getting results and the focus is firmly on the team.
‘Of course you want to develop and improve individuals and I felt like we did that last year at Salisbury.
‘But it’s more that the emphasis is on the game on a Saturday afternoon and as a consequence your preparations and cycle of training is very different.
‘At development level, you are looking at that long-term model of training over the course of a season.
‘The aim is to develop individual performance levels within a team environment.
‘I am still learning, though, and still want to improve and keep myself moving forward.
‘It’s really important for the lads I keep challenging and stretching myself, as well as doing that to them.’
Conor Chaplin and Adam May’s recent emergence into Pompey’s senior set-up is testament to the work Harris and Academy boss Mark Kelly have carried out this term since stepping into the shoes of Andy Awford and Paul Hardyman at the head of the Academy programme.
But for Harris, there have been more than two success stories in the Blues’ youth-team system this season.
He said: ‘It has been a fantastic year and I have loved every minute of it, especially seeing how the boys have come on individually.
‘That’s not just the Adam Mays and Conor Chaplins but some of the other lads and the steps they have made.
‘The progression I have seen in some of the players this season has been phenomenal – not just ability-wise but also physically.
‘It is a really incredible and privileged age group to work with because you do get those transformations in such a short space of time.’