Barton's philosophy is evolving at Fleetwood Town
What has Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution got to do with Joey Barton's pre-Rochdale preparation? A lot, it seems.
What has Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution got to do with Joey Barton’s pre-Rochdale preparation? A lot, it seems.
The Town boss, who studied philosophy at Roehampton during his time at Reading FC, spoke about his ‘Darwinism personality’ and about how football as an industry is the “most Darwinian ecosystem”.
While it might seem a little off piste he has a point.
Darwinism has grown from the theory of the evolution of species by natural selection advanced by Darwin.
And Barton started to discuss today’s clash with Keith Hill’s Rochdale by arguing that in the football world it is survival of the most adaptable.
Barton, who is bidding for his first home win as Town boss after back-to-back away wins over Oxford and Crewe, explained: “I’m Darwinian in personality.
“Everyone thinks the law is that the strongest will survive. It’s actually survival of the most adaptable. That is football.
“Yes, there are certain structures you must stick to and believe in – the fundamentals we would call them – but also you have to tweak sometimes to make sure you can take an opposition’s strength away from them. You can try to use it against them if it is possible.
“Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, some have more easily visible ones than others. But if you do your homework and watch the footage, you can see patterns that emerge.
“You are constantly improving your blindspots and weaknesses, and making sure you are ready to pounce and exploit the opposition.
“We are in a good slot and we are looking forward to the challenge that Keith Hill’s Rochdale will pose for us.”
The devil is in the detail to Barton, who has seen tiny improvements over the opening games as he implements new coaching methods.
He believes small tweaks can make a big difference but he keeps the philosophy simple for League One: Get the basics right and do them well.
Barton said: “It’s just little things. We are asking the guys to be in a certain body position when the opposition have the ball. We ask our backline to have a certain placement of the shoulders and the feet when the opposition have the ball to help us defend anything they have got better.
“We watched the Crewe game and Crewe were pinned in their half . They could not get out in the second half. The reason for that is the body angles of the back defensive unit.
“When Crewe clear the ball, the reason it keeps coming back in is because we have the right starting positions.
“Some lads can say I have not done this for my whole career so why start now, especially when we have experienced performers in the backline?
“But you just have to believe in the process and keep talking to them about it. The reason they have not done it is probably because have not needed to.
But if you are going to go up levels, go into different leagues .... then you need to make sure that your fundamentals are correct, then everything else flows from that.
“People tend to think everyone in football can pass correctly, an run correctly and turn correctly. Even at the elite level that is not always the case.
“You cannot do the basics often enough or at a high enough standard. If you do that, everything tends to follow from it.
“These Pep Guardiola things about players not being in the same line or same quadrant is stuff for a lot further down the line, when you are at Pep’s level.
“That is probably top of the world level. Us mere mortals are just competing to do the basics really well. That is what we are tying to do.”