Joey Barton expects a tough afternoon as Fleetwood Town meet Oxford United

Joey Barton paid tribute to Oxford United manager Karl Robinson
Joey Barton paid tribute to Oxford United manager Karl Robinson

He might not be able to stand in the opposite dugout today but Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton has a lot of respect for Oxford United counterpart Karl Robinson.

The U’s visit Highbury, looking for a first away league win this season on a day when Barton sits out the second of his two-game touchline ban.

Nevertheless, Barton expects a tough game despite Oxford’s current position in the bottom four.

He said: “Karl is someone I have spoken to for a long period of time.

“I picked his brains on loads of things about management before I took a job.

“I know his standing within the game; he has got sides promoted out of this division and brought players through, the likes of Dele Alli and that kind of player.

“He has helped develop them into world-class players and been a massive part of their journeys.

“His teams always want to play football, get it down and play.

“He is a manager who has done really good things in the game and will continue to do so.

“I have an enormous amount of respect for Karl and his team there.

“I know, Saturday, we are in for a tough game.

“This league table has shown there are some big clubs down at the bottom end of the table; your Bradfords, Scunthorpes your Oxfords – sides that probably had ambitions at the start of the season of being in that play-off picture and in that promotion push.”

For his part, Barton reiterated his desire for patience as he overhauls the Highbury squad.

He said: “We knew we had to up the group on experience in the summer because, when I looked at the dressing room from a distance, I did not see a fantastic amount of leadership.

“We knew we had to upskill the group in terms of the psychological aspects of it.

“That meant bringing in more senior statesmen, people that are coming closer to the end of their careers than the start of their careers.

“We feel we have done that but it is very early in this project and it just requires patience.

“Where we are is not where we will be but where I am in my head, I am probably six or eight months ahead of where the team is at right now.

“But it is getting them to that point; that takes patience on the training field, repetition on the training field and it also takes a little bit of recruitment because we are still trying to get people into a system.

“At a point in time they either fit the system or we have to lose them and bring people in who do fit the system.

“From my perspective, if I’m a Fleetwood Town fan looking in and I see Chris Long go, (Kyle) Dempsey go out on loan and you see older players come in, I get that there is a bit of ‘what is going on here?’.

“But they just have to trust that I know what I am doing because I do.

“I am the only person that has the picture in my head along with the coaching staff and we have a clear plan that we are working towards.

“There is a quick way of doing that. That is (chairman) Andy Pilley gives me £15m which he is not going to give me so we can recruit.

“We can’t do that, we have to do that a different way.

“In the summer we are dealing with lads who are out of contract, free transfers or have had injury issues at previous regimes.

“That is the only way you get players for no transfer fee; good players, top players, very rarely get out of contract.”