Fleetwood Town boss throws down the gauntlet to pacesetters Portsmouth
Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton maintains Portsmouth have only faced one of League One's leading sides as he takes his team to Fratton Park today.
Pompey are top with 30 points from their opening 13 games but, in that time, they have only faced two of the current top six with a goalless draw against fourth-placed Doncaster Rovers and a victory over nearest challengers Peterborough United.
In contrast, Town have met four of the top half-dozen with draws against Accrington Stanley and Sunderland, a win over Doncaster and a defeat to Barnsley.
By Wednesday, Barton’s men will have faced all of the current top six as they follow up today’s game with a Tuesday night trip to Peterborough.
Barton said: “We believe we can win any game.
“Portsmouth are at the top of the table at the minute; they are a good side.
“I know Kenny (Jackett, Portsmouth manager) well, he was reserve team manager at Man City when I was there.
“He is a good guy, a good footballing guy with good principles about how he wants his team to play.
“It is a team that we can beat; no disrespect to them, they sit at the top of the pile at the minute but I think they have not played any of the big boys bar Peterborough.
“We have played virtually all of them and, by next week, we will have played everyone in and amongst it from the top end.
“I think we will find a good barometer of where we are at but obviously we have been great on the road and they have been great on the road.
“We probably could have been better at home, Pompey probably could have been better at home.
“Fratton Park is a good place to play football.
“It is a nice big pitch and it will suit us playing away from home.
“We have shown we are not afraid of that and I’m looking forward to testing ourselves there at what, in this period, is the best side in the division.”
Having acknowledged Portsmouth’s start to their season and their abilities, Barton still pointed out that nothing is decided until May with his side presently eighth in the table.
He said: “No prizes are handed out in October or November.
“The key for us, like a good horse race, you want to be jockeying for position so when you come into the final furlongs you have the ability to put a spurt together and strike – we are the same.
“It is great to be top of the table now; we’d take it for sure to be sitting on 30 points, no doubt about that, but the key is to make sure you are sitting at the top of the pile in May.”