‘Speed dating’ and a wheel of fortune for forfeits are two of the unorthodox tools Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton is using to knit his squad together during their pre-season tour of Hungary.
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He got one idea from his managerial mentor Sean Dyche at Burnley, while the other is a brainwave of Town’s new first-team coach Steve Eyre that Barton was a tad more sceptical about.
The forfeits game, called ‘spins’, is something Barton has brought from Turf Moor. A player guilty of a minor breach of rules spins the wheel to decide his fate.
At the Premier League club, it could be anything from dressing up as Elvis to blasting out a boy band hit. However, the ‘punishments’ dealt to the Town players are staying on tour.
The ‘speed-dating’ was dreamed up by the former Manchester City coach and Rochdale boss Eyre to help the squad get to know each other better.
The players would sit opposite each other and ask randomly selected questions, and as an ice-breaking session it went down a treat.
One purpose of the tour is to build a team ethos as the players spend a week together at the Globall Hotel in Telki,
What matters most for Barton is that the team-building and camaraderie translate on to the pitch.
And so far it is all going to plan, Town having won their three warm-up games to date against Southport, Salford City and, most recently, Slovakian second division club ŠTK Fluminense Šamorín.
Barton said: “We have only been here a couple of days but they were coming together really nicely at Poolfoot Farm.
“There were some really good signs. Chatter in the dining hall tends to be a good one, a sign of a good team, and we are starting to get there.
“The speed dating was interesting on Monday night. It was one of the coaches’ ideas.
“I was sceptical about it when it was pitched as speed dating but it worked really well.
“The lads have bought into the spins, which we did at Burnley. There is real good camaraderie starting to build.
“That is starting to come on to the training pitch, but more importantly it is coming on to the pitch as well.
“We put four past Salford on Friday night, then travelled here.
“I’m not sure about the quality of the opposition (STK) but they looked a decent side, with some big, physical boys .
“The lads have stepped up to the plate and we managed to beat them quite convincingly in the end.
“There are real positive signs of team building.”