Joey Barton believes his Fleetwood Town team have too much firepower to be drawn into a relegation battle.
Town are 10th in League One on 35 points after 27 games.
They had one more point at the same stage last season – and stood 11th – but then an eight-game losing run sent them spiralling into a relegation battle.
Head coach Barton does not expect history to repeat itself and says that with 15-goal Paddy Madden, 10-goal Ched Evans, who is suspended for Saturday’s trip to 19th-placed Rochdale, seven-goal Wes Burns, six-goal Ash Hunter, the newly-returned Ashley Nadesan and Conor McAleny, Town have too much firepower to be drawn into a dogfight at the bottom.
But after seeing his men squander a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Oxford last Saturday, it is the defence that Barton is keen to shore up.
The Town boss aid: “I just take it one game at a time. In January last year, they imploded by the look of it and it ended with Uwe (Rosler) getting the sack.
“That is never good to see but this is a completely different football team.
“Yes, it is the same badge on the shirt but there are lots of elements that are completely different.
“Do I envisage getting drawn into a relegation battle? I don’t see it, if I’m honest.
“I think we have got too much firepower really.
“When I looked at them last year and looked at the games back, I think they struggled due to a real lack of firepower.
“We need to make sure that when we are getting those goals – those one or two goals – they are enough to win games.
“At the minute we have to work really hard in defensive areas to make sure that when we do get ourselves a foothold it is game over. That is the challenge of the job.
“One week we can make the defence look really solid but then we pose very little offensive threat, like against Shrewsbury.
“Then we get the offensive side of it and the defence looks a little suspect at times. It is just constant work.
“The great thing for me is that there is real clarity about what direction we are going in.
“Once we start driving that and drilling it in, we will start seeing the benefits of it.
“The difficulty for us is that you need time to lock it in but we will get that going forward.”