Simon Grayson says he’s happy to let Joey Barton waste his time playing mind games ahead of tomorrow’s Fylde Coast clash between Blackpool and Fleetwood Town.
Previewing Saturday’s game at Bloomfield Road with the media this morning, Barton argued that Blackpool aren’t a big club and claimed his side plays better football and have the better players and academy.
He also went on to name the starting XI the Seasiders are likely to name, suggesting Armand Gnanduillet is likely to return from injury in place of Joe Nuttall up front as their only change from last week’s FA Cup win against Maidstone United.
Hitting back this lunchtime, Grayson said: “Well done to him if he knows my team because I don’t know it yet!
“Armand Gnanduillet up front? Oh wow, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to have players that have been doing well in your team.”
When asked if he wished to have a stab at Fleetwood’s starting XI, Grayson added: “Let me guess...Kyle Dempsey might play because they’ve got no midfield players.
“I could go through it all day long but I’m not really bothered. My team will go out and do what is required to try and win a football game.
“If Joey is playing mind games he can waste his time doing that because I’m not bothered.
“Honestly, I don’t give one iota what Joey Barton has said and that’s said in the nicest possible way.
“He can say what he wants to say about this, that and the other, I’m just concentrating on what we need to do.”
When later quizzed about the fitness of his Blackpool side, Grayson provided a mind game of his own, joking: “Armand is out injured, (Nathan) Delfouneso is out injured, we’re really down to the bare bones.”
Fleetwood, who have yet to taste victory at Bloomfield Road, currently lead Blackpool in the league table by the way of goal difference - although they have played two games fewer.
On Fleetwood’s rise from non-league to the third tier, Grayson said: “It’s there for everyone to see, they’ve had a fantastic run under Andy Pilley. They’ve come through the leagues very quickly.
“Are they ahead of the schedule in terms of where they wanted to get to when Andy took over? I don’t know.
“But he will have had a plan of action of what he wanted to do, so full credit. It just goes to show what can be achieved by teams that have got good owners and ambitions.
“Full credit to them, they’re in this division on merit and they’re just outside the top six currently on merit as well and will be looking to get to the Championship.
“Well done to Andy Pilley.”
After finishing 11th in League One last season in what was Barton’s first campaign as a manager, Fleetwood will undoubtedly want to push on and compete at the top end of the division this time round.
Grayson believes Barton has enjoyed a solid start to life in management and expects the Highbury outfit to be up and amongst it come the end of the season.
“He’s done a good job,” the Pool boss said.
“Last year, I wouldn’t say it was a successful season because I don’t know what success would be classed as at Fleetwood as I’ve got no knowledge of what their ambitions were at the start of last season when he went in or this year as well.
“I know his side will be competitive and they’re in a great position at this moment in time.
“They’ve got some good footballers who can hurt you if you’re not on your guard, so we have to make sure we deal with that.
“He will have learnt a lot from his first full season, I’m sure, good times and bad times, and I’m sure he’s enjoying it to a certain degree.”