Joey Barton’s tribute to Gary Bowyer and Terry McPhillips ahead of Fleetwood Town-Blackpool derby tussle

Gary Bowyer and Terry McPhillips
Gary Bowyer and Terry McPhillips

Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton geared up for Saturday’s derby by praising the efforts of former Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer.

Barton had anticipated pitting his wits against Bowyer on taking the job at Highbury in the summer.

However, Bowyer departed Bloomfield Road, having resigned after a goalless draw at Wycombe Wanderers on the opening day of the season.

His assistant, Terry McPhillips, took over the reins and has embarked on an 11-game unbeaten run in the league after losing his first match against Portsmouth.

Barton said: “Gary Bowyer – a good man, good manager – left a solid infrastructure and credit to him for creating that.

“You have to give huge credit to Terry because he was a part of that and has managed to continue that.

“To the outside world, if you look at Blackpool and hear all of the shenanigans that go on away from the football pitch and the training ground, you can imagine it being a really difficult environment.

“But sometimes the madness of a football club can gel you together, galvanise the players.

“We have got Stephen Crainey (Fleetwood’s U23 boss) who played with Blackpool in the Premier League, Matt Gilks, who is a good pal of mine, was there and Gary Taylor-Fletcher is a neighbour of mine.

“When you speak to those guys it was kind of the madness of the club that bonded the players together.

“I think they still have elements of that. Clearly there is some disconnect between the fans, the owners and the structure at Blackpool.

“It is sad to see because you never want to see a fan alienated from his football club or feel the way that some of the Blackpool fans do about what is going on there.

“But also the flipside of that is that the team is still performing, so credit to Terry and his players.

“We face an in-form side on Saturday, who will come and take us on on our own patch.

“I am really looking forward to the game.”

Barton is expecting a good atmosphere at Highbury with the highest home gate of the season anticipated.

He said: “I’m surmising it will be a sell out.

“I think our fans have been superb, certainly in the recent games.

“Even the away games, the small number that travel they always make themselves known.

“At home I’m surmising there will be a bit of spice added to it because it is a derby.

“They have just got to be themselves and, because of how close we are and the fact it is not at Blackpool’s stadium, I think lots of Blackpool fans who have maybe been staying away from the home games will be at this game supporting the team.

“Hopefully they create a fantastic atmosphere for both sets of players to scrap it out.”