Fleetwood Town coach Andy Mangan is relishing a visit to his last club Accrington Stanley this weekend but says he has had to work “doubly hard” since returning to Highbury because of his friendship with Joey Barton.
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Mangan, who spent two seasons as a player at Town (2011-13), returned to the club as a first-team coach last month after ending his playing contract at Stanley.
The forward, 32, has not officially hung up his boots but says the opportunity to join Clint Hill, Steve Eyre and Barry Nicholson on Barton’s coaching staff was too good to turn down.
Mangan is a longtime friend of Barton’s but insists this is anything but a case of jobs for the boys.
“If anything I have to work doubly hard,” he said. “Because we are mates he is probably on me a little bit more, so I need to have more answers, prepare more.
“I will have to be better and that will spur me on to be better every single day.”
Barton’s fellow Liverpudlian started his career at Blackpool and was part of the Town squad that won promotion to the Football League.
They briefly trained together at Fleetwood in the summer of 2012 and Barton played alongside Mangan in a friendly against Kilmarnock.
Town’s hopes of signing Barton on loan from Queens Park Rangers were dashed and he later joined French club Marseilles.
Mangan says people give him too much credit for forging the links between Barton and Fleetwood which ultimately led to his appointment as head coach.
But he thinks it is a good fit as Barton shares Town chairman Andy Pilley’s quest for improvement.
Mangan said of Barton’s arrival seven years ago: “I could not just have brought one of my mates in. Joe is one of my friends and at that time he had a bit of a situation.
“He needed somewhere to train and Andy (Pilley) jumped at the chance to take him. We took an awful lot from that pre-season training with him.
“I think people might give me too much credit for that. Joe is a top fellah and loves the sport. He is a real student of the game.
“The chairman does his diligence on everyone who comes to the club, and now he has become manager he is doing really well.
“He’s in a great learning environment and hopefully that continues. He wanted to go into management and this position came up.
“He wants to get better, as does the club, so I think it is a good match.”