Fleetwood boss Joey Barton stands by 'honest' opinions of Everton's David Unsworth ahead of EFL Trophy tie at Goodison Park

Fleetwood Town head coach Joey Barton has stood by his controversial comments about Everton Under-21 manager David Unsworth ahead of their teams’ meeting in the EFL Trophy tonight.
Joey Barton was highly critical of Everton's David Unsworth while working as a radio pundit in 2017Joey Barton was highly critical of Everton's David Unsworth while working as a radio pundit in 2017
Joey Barton was highly critical of Everton's David Unsworth while working as a radio pundit in 2017
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Speaking on talkSPORT in 2017, Barton called Unsworth “a glorified PE teacher” and “an academy coach who shouldn’t be managing a men’s team”.

Unsworth was caretaker manager of Everton’s senior side at the time and Barton added: “How can you get players to exert themselves physically when you’re out of shape?”

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Discussing those remarks yesterday, the Town boss said he was simply giving an honest opinion.

The boyhood Evertonian told The Gazette: “I was asked a question and it was my job to give commentary as part of a media commitment.

“I’d done my research. I know what I know. I speak to people. I said what I said. If people don’t like it, tough.

“I didn’t tell any lies. I could have done without it, don’t get me wrong!

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“I do think he was making a play at the Everton job. If you want the Everton job, you’ve got to go out and earn it. That’s what we’re all doing. I just thought as an Evertonian that he would have been the wrong appointment.

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“I do think how you look on the sideline can be important, certainly at the Premier League level, where people from all around the globe are watching.

“I do feel there is a certain way to present yourself. Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino – they’re all figureheads for their club. Did we want that to be Everton’s message to the world? I didn’t, so I said what I said.”

Having grown up supporting the Toffees and joining their youth system, the top job at Goodison would be a dream position for Barton.

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“It’s a job that in the future, as an Evertonian, you would like to take,” he said.

“I look at some of the people who have had the job, and I think that if I keep progressing and moving forward, it’s somewhere you’d hold dear to your heart. Although I never played there, I have great memories of watching as a kid.”

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And Barton welcomes the opportunity to speak to Unsworth this evening.

He added: “We’ll have a chat about it Tuesday night. If he wants to have a sensible chat about it, then no problem; if he wants to blank me, no problem.

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“We’re there to win a game of football. We won’t be on each other’s Christmas card list. It’s no problem, life goes on.

“I was paid to talk about the game from a punditry side. I’m not going to go on and do what everyone else does and be vanilla. I was going to go on and be myself, and you’re going to ruffle loads of feathers if you have an opinion.

“The fact made as much copy as it did clearly says I wasn’t the only one thinking it. But everybody’s different. It’s not for me to tell people what to do with their lives. I just made an observation.

“I was asked if I thought he should get the job after they lost at Leicester. I didn’t think he should.”