Joey Barton has learnt from mistakes of the past and can prove a ‘huge success’ as he makes his first steps into management as head coach at Fleetwood, according to chairman Andy Pilley.
The 35-year-old has signed a three-year contract from June 2, when his suspension for breaking Football Association betting rules expires.
The appointment of the controversial former England midfielder by the Sky Bet League One club has been greeted with a mixed response, but chairman Pilley is confident Barton is the right man at the right time for Fleetwood.
Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley says Joey Barton has learned from his previous mistakes
Fleetwood are currently 14th in League One, eight points above the relegation places
‘I have appointed managers with no previous experience in the past and they have always been successful, I had Graham Alexander and Micky Mellon who both won promotions,’ Pilley said.
‘There is a risk in any appointment, but knowing Joe as I do, I am supremely confident he will be a huge success.’
Pilley has built his relationship with Barton since the midfielder trained at the club while he was serving a 12-match ban after being found guilty of two counts of violent conduct on the final day of the 2011-12 season against Manchester City.
Barton, most recently at Burnley, is currently banned from all football activities after being found guilty of breaching betting rules but his suspension, reduced from 18 months on appeal, expires on June 1.
Despite plenty of controversies on and off the pitch, Pilley feels Barton, who will take over from caretaker boss John Sheridan, can help progress the Cod Army as they target promotion to the Sky Bet Championship.
‘I have known Joe for a long time. I think he is going to be a top, top coach and I was happy to offer him the job,’ Pilley added on Sky Sports News.
‘Joe will match everything about this club. We try and be ground-breaking, we try to be forward thinking, that is two descriptions I would give to Joe. I think we will be aligned on and off the pitch.’
Pilley insisted he was ‘not at all’ concerned over Barton’s temperament.
‘I know him well, like most people he has made mistakes in the past, but I think he has learned from those mistakes and I am confident that it will be a great appointment for us,’ the Fleetwood chairman added.
Fleetwood chairman Pilley backs Barton to be a ‘huge success’ at the League One club
The EFL is committed to tackling the under-representation of black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) coaches across all 72 member clubs. However, it remains a voluntary recruitment code as part of an extended trial period and not yet in the regulations.
Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, were contacted for comment on Barton’s appointment by the Press Association, but did not issue a statement.
Pilley, however, defended Fleetwood’s recruitment process. ‘My last two managers, one was a German and one was Irish – so nobody could every accuse us of not being an equal-opportunity club,’ he said.
Barton’s backroom staff have yet to be confirmed, along with whether the 35-year-old will also be registered as a player.
Sheridan, appointed on a short-term basis following the sacking of Uwe Rosler during February, remains focused on the job in hand as he prepares the squad for Saturday’s home match against leaders Wigan.
‘We knew the circumstances, so in a way it’s not a shock to people,’ Sheridan said at a press conference, as quoted on the club’s official website.
‘I am looking forward to the next three games and trying to win every one of them.’
JOEY BARTON’S RAP SHEET
Any attempts by Barton to instill discipline in his Fleetwood squad will be interesting, given his own own colourful past.
He has twice been convicted for violent crimes – in May 2008 he was sentenced to six months in prison for common assault. He served 77 days.
Barton also received a four-month suspended sentence for a 2007 training ground attack on Manchester City team mate Ousmane Dabo. City had almost sacked him in December 2004 after he stubbed out a cigarette in a youth team player’s eye during the club Christmas party.
On the final day of the 2011-12 season, Barton, now at QPR, was sent off in the 55th minute against former club City. He kicked Sergio Aguero and tried to headbutt Vincent Kompany. He was handed a 12-match ban by the FA.
In May 2016 he joined Rangers, but was suspended in September for a training ground altercation before having his contract terminated in November, ahead of his ban for gambling on football matches.
In his league career, Barton picked up 107 yellow cards and was sent off eight times, according to Opta.