CRYSTAL Palace first team coach Ben Garner flew to Spain last month to watch Atletico Madrid train and also scout a particular player in the match between Real Madrid and Espanyol. The former Academy coach, who stepped up with the first team initially with ex-boss Ian Holloway, is certainly keeping himself busy following the end of last season. If he isn't researching coaching manuals or player analysis systems, he's out watching players who may interest manager Tony Pulis. The same applies to Keith Millen, who went to France to watch a number of possible targets a few weeks ago. Following the last game of the season at Fulham, Garner went to the Madrid for a week and was given an insight to how the eventual La Liga champions do things. And with the World Cup in full flow, Palace will also keep an eye on any talent who catch their eye. "I had three days with Atletico, where I watched their Academy teams train, and then I also watched the first team for two days," he told the Advertiser. "That was really good because it was two days before they played Barcelona, where they won the title. "Their season went a week longer than the Premier League, so I just wanted to go out and watch one of the top teams around, see how they work and see if there was anything I could pick up. "I liked Athletico. They play similarly to us at Palace, a bit defensively, so it was good to see what sort of things they do to achieve that. "Sometimes you're in your own cocoon during the season because it's so intense and there is no sort of time to see anything, so whenever I can I try and get abroad to watch different players and get different ideas. "I also watched three games over a weekend. I had a player to watch in particular and then another two matches to see if there were any other players for Palace. "I watched Real Madrid versus Espanyol, then on the Sunday I watched Getafe versus Rayo Vallecano, and then Castilla versus Las Palmas. "Castilla is Real Madrid's B team and they played in next level down from La Liga. "There was one player I was scouting in the Real Madrid-Espanyol game, then the other two was a general look. "Scouting is so difficult to do during the season so when we get the opportunity, we do go out, and that includes back home during midweek to scout opposition or players we like. "Now, with the World Cup on, we'll keep a close eye on that and study it. But if there are any games over the summer I need to get out to watch anywhere, I will try to." Garner has been with Palace for nearly ten years and spent eight of those with the Academy. But having gained a lot of experience with the first team and in the top flight of English football, he is ready to push his career on further. That includes the possibility of becoming a manager himself in the future. "It's just about continuing to learn for me," he said. "Each summer I normally try and do a course, but there nothing I can really do this year. "I am waiting to do the UEFA Pro Licence, which starts next January. The applications have just opened up so I've applied for that hopefully I get a place. "That's an 18-month course too, so I really hope to start that at the start of next year. "I do have aspirations. I would love to manage one day, it's what I've always wanted to do."This interview features in the current edition of the Croydon Advertiser.
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