Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton has upped the ante ahead of this afternoon’s Fylde coast clash by saying he doesn’t regard hosts Blackpool as a big club.
Barton has a fully fit squad to choose from for the League One encounter but feels Blackpool aren’t a big enough club to warrant a change in his strategy.
And he encouraged his side to earn themselves a place in history by becoming the first Fleetwood side to win at Bloomfield Road.
“For me, Blackpool – no disrespect to them – aren’t a big club,” Barton said. “So I don’t see Blackpool as a club I would change anything for in terms of my psychology.
“But I can understand Fleetwood fans looking at Blackpool as the big club in this area. I saw how delighted they were to beat them for the first time last season.
“We go there with a chance to make a little bit of history for themselves. They’ve been the first to do a few things and now they’ve got the chance to be the first Fleetwood side to win at Blackpool.
“They’re going to have to earn it. It’s going to be very sought-after from our players and I expect Blackpool to want to defend their record with everything they’ve got. It sets it up nicely for a great game.”
Barton acknowledges Blackpool’s impressive history but believes the Fylde coast’s best footballing side is now based at Highbury.
He added: “Blackpool has historically been the biggest club in the area – it’s had no competition. Fylde and Fleetwood hadn’t been able to do what they’ve done in recent seasons.
“Now, if you’re going to go and watch the pure aesthetics you’d watch Fleetwood. We play much better football than them. We’ve got better players, we’ve got the better youth academy, everything’s better.
“Blackpool is an older, more traditional, bigger club, with a bigger support base. But if you were coming in from Mars and you asked which is the better-run football club, which will be successful over a longer period if what’s happening keeps on happening, then Fleetwood would be.
“We’ve got good people in charge. No disrespect to Simon – I think he’s a great coach – but he’s got to tidy up a bit of a mess.
“It’s allowed Fleetwood and Fylde to make some traction. If Blackpool had been getting it right, then it would have been be tough for Fleetwood and Fylde to make progress. They’ve only been able to do that through the ambition of their respective owners.”