Ged McNamee believes Matthew Bates has all the tools to succeed as a manager at Hartlepool United - or wherever he goes in his career.
But it is his determination and desire, qualities that have shone through since he was a kid, which make him stand out, according to the Pools No 2.
“Matthew has taken to the role well,” said McNamee, who was Bates’ first ever coach at the Manchester United school of excellence, before he signed for Middlesbrough.
“I’ve known him a long time. You never know how he would take it. But he was in at the deep end last season, he’s resolute and thick skinned. A lot may not have wanted it.
“You see a determination and desire from a young age.
“He debuted at a very young age, which shows a determination to progress and do well. That determination never leaves you, even when your career as a player is over.”
At the age of 31, Bates hung up his boots with injuries over the years taking their toll. He stepped in to the managerial hotseat, where others feared to tread.
It was a marriage of convenience at first. Pools could barely afford to pay their own bills, yet alone sack one manager and appoint another.
So, they turned to Bates, an untried coach, green but enthusiastic, keen to prove himself and dive head first into the powder keg that was Victoria Park last season.
Many before him - some with a whole lot more experience - have sunk, Bates swam.
He impressed so much that even when the cash was there to appoint an outsider, Pools could not turn away from the man who galvanised a crumbling dressing-room and saved the club from the embarrassment of relegation to the National League North.
McNamee was a part of the rise of Bates, standing alongside him in the dugout every game, bar the first against Ebbsfleet.
On the qualities he brings to the club, the former Sunderland academy boss said: “He watches games, we talk about the game and he has played at a high level.
“He is very thorough in preparation and that he is young he is still learning.
“Come Thursday and Friday he has looked at the opposition and we transfer that onto the training pitch. He has very good qualities as a manager.
“I like and want us to encourage the players to get the ball down and pass it. We want to get around them and want them to express themselves on the ball.”
As a coach, getting the balance right can be a struggle.
Old school methods don’t quite cut it in the modern game. By the same token being too soft on your players can also have an adverse impact.
Bates, only recently out of playing himself, just gets it, says McNamee.
“He knows when to encourage, when to ruffle a few feathers but he’s not a ranter and raver and speaks to players like you expect them to,” he said.
“He puts his message across well. He demands high standards and training shows that. We don’t drag it out for long, we plan and go bang, bang, bang and as long as quality and tempo is good we are happy.
“We have to be careful with training and can’t have them out there too long. It’s a tough league, a lot of games and that intelligence is important.
“I’m there to help him – calm down, or he tells me to calm down. It’s a good mix.”