Tom Sandells column: Analysing an amazing week at Fleetwood Town
The club now has a caretaker boss, their number nine is out on loan in the league above and the squad can’t train due to the need to isolate after positive Covid tests.
‘Eventful’ doesn’t quite cut it.
The week started with the surprise departure of Joey Barton. Much has been said about it but the short explanation is that the attention he brought the club got too much in the end, along with some disruption in a squad currently in mid-table after one win in seven League One games.
The decision wasn’t easy for chairman Andy Pilley, a personal friend of his former head coach, but he wanted a “new direction”.
Barton’s final press conference as Town boss three weeks ago had included the headline-hitting announcement that striker Ched Evans was no longer being considered for selection and would leave.
The Welshman is well liked at Highbury by players, staff and the owner, so this bombshell – offered up willingly by Barton and not prised out of him – was hard to take.
Honesty was always a big part of Barton’s tenure, though, and if Pilley ever thought he would mince his words or not wear his heart on his sleeve, then he was mistaken.
Nevertheless, news of the availability of Evans, who has since turned 32, got the attention of Preston North End.
Whether Evans could have stayed given Barton’s departure is irrelevant in the end – when a nearby Championship club showed interest, he would always have wanted to step up.
And speaking of stepping up, welcome to the fold Simon Wiles.
Being promoted to temporary first-team boss and becoming a father for the first time is right up there as ‘eventful’ weeks go. Congratulations to Wiles on both fronts.
He has done a fine job with the Town academy and it’s because of those successes that his stock has risen and risen within the club.
Credit to Barton for introducing more and more players from the academy into the first-team fold, but after sparkling displays they were often made to wait for another opportunity as rotation was a feature of the Liverpudlian’s reign.
Former Blackpool forward Wiles will be given some time in the post to settle in.
Town are comfortable with him at the helm as they consider Barton’s long-term successor, and with the training ground closed all week the new boss is yet to take a session.
If there is unrest in the squad, then having a caretaker boss the players already know and respect should help to get everyone onside.
It’s a case of watching with interest how things unfold at Fleetwood over the next few weeks.
Pilley will not be short of applicants, with a quality squad already assembled, wages freed up and a striker to sign – it’s certainly a great opportunity for whoever ends up getting the job.
But the opportunity is there to promote from within should Wiles impress.
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