Barton can take Fleetwood into Championship says chairman Pilley

Joey Barton
Joey Barton

Chairman Andy Pilley believes Joey Barton is the man to guide Fleetwood Town to the Championship but says it will not happen overnight.

Don’t miss the latest football news and gossip from leagues in England, Scotland and Europe with
Pilley has given the controversial ex-Burnley and Manchester City midfielder his first shot in management.

Barton can only begin the job when his ban for breaching FA betting rules is completed in June, but Pilley believes he will win the doubters over and come to be seen as another shrewd Town appointment, as has John Sheridan since he replaced Uwe Rosler in February.

Rosler was one game away from guiding Fleetwood to a historic first promotion to the second tier last season and now Barton will bid to achieve the feat, though Pilley vowed he will give the 35-year-old time.

He said: “I do think he can take us to the Championship. I think it would be unfair to put the pressure on him and say that will definitely happen next season, but I think he can progress us and make us better on the pitch.

“He is a very forward- thinking guy, very passionate, and I just know and I’m convinced that people will look back and say what a shrewd appointment that is.”

The appointment has been long in the making, with ex-Fleetwood player Andy Mangan playing a role in uniting Barton with the Town owner.

Pilley’s ambition is the Championship, and although he is full of praise for Sheridan he feels Barton will push Town towards that second tier.

Pilley has given Barton a three-year deal and revealed they met in February, when Rosler was sacked, though he could not consider the Liverpudlian for the job then because of his ban.

Instead he opted for Sheridan, who Pilley cannot praise too highly for keeping Town in League One.

But Barton was a risk Pilley felt he had to take, having missed out on a loan deal for the player when he was with QPR six years ago.

Pilley said: “Back in 2012 we had mutual friends. He is very good friends with Andy Mangan (a Town player at that time), who I think is a great guy.

“We stayed in touch, had dinner occasionally and we did meet up back in February.

“It was not a formal interview but it was then I really started to think, ‘What if? Is there a possibility Joey has the skill set we need to progress Fleetwood Town?’

“We knew about the ban, so it was an impossibility. We have to fully respect the ban.

“We have liaised with the FA and we know exactly what he can do and what he can’t.

“We are going to ensure he does not breach it in any way. He will start the job on June 2 and he won’t participate (before then).”

Pilley has no doubt he has the right man and explained: “I think there are a number of reasons: he is certainly a winner, he’s got a great work ethic, his enthusiasm is infectious and he works really hard.

“I think he is intelligent, a good communicator, and for lots of different reasons I think he can galvanise the football club and create a winning culture that will gel the team together and move us onwards.”