Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley: Waiting game is a boost for Joey Barton
Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley says Joey Barton's four-month wait to take charge at Town could benefit him.
Barton knew in February that he would be taking the head coach’s role at Highbury once his 13-month FA ban for breach of betting rules expired last Saturday.
The 35-year-old was in the stands for several games as John Sheridan steered Town to League One safety.
Barton has never played in the third tier but those four months gave him plenty of time to study the division, and Pilley says that gives Barton and advantage over ellow former midfielder Steven Gerrard, the new Rangers boss.
Pilley said: “Joey has known he would be taking over from February.
“We had an interim manager in John Sheirdan, who did an outstanding job, but the decision was made prior to then to go with Joey.
“He has had a good four months to prepare and learn about League One.
“I don’t think Steven Gerrard had four months to prepare for the Scottish Premiership. I might be wrong but Joey has certainly had that advantage.
“He has not been in the building and couldn’t get really get busy and familiar with the club because of his ban, but he watched a game or two and now he is champing at the bit to get going.”
Pilley explained how the whole appointment came about.
It was a seed planted back in 2012, when Barton trained with Town prior to choosing alternative coastal destination for his loan move from QPR – sunny Marseilles.
But Pilley believes that pre-season stint at Town six years ago shows Barton is a man of the people.
He recalled: “I was actually on holiday in Cornwall when my phone rang and it was a chap who said he was Joey Barton’s agent.
“I said, ‘You’ve got the wrong number mate because we are in League Two and Joey Barton is a Premier League superstar who has just been sent off for fighting with Sergio Aguero!’
“And he said, ‘Please don’t hang up – there is perhaps an opportunity for Joey to train with Fleetwood. A couple of his friends are at the club and it works for Joey geographically’.
“I remember speaking to Micky Mellon, the manager at the time, and he agreed Joey would be good to have around and would raise the bar in training.
“He trained with us and we came close to signing him on loan until Christmas.
“The idea was that he would play half a dozen games when his ban expired (12 matches for violent conduct). I felt it was quite quirky and would show he is a man of the people.
“Not many Premier League superstars would drop down to League Two and it would be an opportunity for him to get fit before he went back to QPR.
“Joey had a very tough decision to make – Fleetwood or Marseilles. Surprisingly he plumped for Marseilles!
“I actually met him a couple of years ago in the Euros, ironically in Marseilles again.
“We spent the afternoon together and went on to the game (England v Russia). We have common friends and we touched base on occasions.
“When Uwe Rosler left the club, we genuinely had an absolutely blank sheet of paper. The question then was: who will the new manager be?
“I was speaking to a common friend of Joey’s and mine and we just put it out there: what about Joe?.
“We thought he was going to carry on playing but I’ve always been really confident he would make a great manager because of his attributes.
“I called him next morning. Joe was in France and he really fancied the idea.
“I think his mind was focused on playing but he saw the opportunity. He has always been determined to be a successful and fantastic manager on the highest level.
“But he understands that he has to earn his stripes and badges elsewhere.
“I think he sees Fleetwood as the perfect platform for such a grounding.
“If he is successful here, which I’m sure he will be, there is every chance he will move on to the Championship or the Premier League.”