The difference between League One and Premier League is all in the mind for new Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton

Joey Barton
Joey Barton

Fleetwood Town head coach Joey Barton believes the difference between League One and the highest level is in the mind.

Barton's summer arrival at Highbury was not just restricted to bringing in Clint Hill and Steve Eyre on the coaching side.

His agent, Eddie Jennings, is helping with the transfer policy while sports psychologist, Steve Black, is working on the mental side of things.

It is Barton's first experience of League One and it's the mental approach he'll be addressing in bidding to improve on Town's 14th-placed finish last season.

Speaking about what he has learned since taking on his first managerial role, he said: “I think the general level of fitness and tactical and technical ability of the players.

“I have never played at League One; I played three seasons in the Championship, winning it twice and the play-offs.

“I’ve always been in the top six of the Championship and the rest aside from a short spell in Scotland (Rangers) or France (Marseille) was in the Premier League.

“All I have ever known is that level.

“Whichever way you look at it, you would expect the levels below to be levels below.

“You are never quite sure how far but we have been really surprised at actually how close to the level the lads in League One and Fleetwood in League One are.

“I can see where they need to improve and it has been a huge learning experience as to where they need to improve.

“Not to do with talent or fitness; it used to be, it used to be the elite level lads were fitter.

“Whereas now there are lots of very fit lads; we played (National League North side) Southport here, they were really fit and strong.

“They have gone from being really good players but not the best athletes to really good athletes but maybe not the best technicians.

“In League One what I have found is a lot of it is to do with the mind.

“A lot of it is about psychology, their approach to a mistake, their mental ability to overcome adversity.

“It is not to do with ability, with technical or physical capabilities, it is more to do with how they deal with disappointment.

“So a lot of the stuff we have been doing has been psychological.

“We have been doing all the stuff you need to do tactically and technically but also delving in to try and make the group physiologically better.

“We have seen some great reactions to mistake, the reaction time from someone making a mistake to chasing and getting the ball back has reduced significantly which will help us in a game when the ball turns over at times.

“It will help us be more alert, more aware and increases our ability of getting the ball back, which gives us a better chance of winning games of football.”

As Barton prepares for his first game in charge with Town hosting AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, he will be using one simple message.

He said: “The mantra is: 'you win or you learn.'

“That is what I have carried on my journey as a football player, that is what I will carry on my life journey.

“It is football, let's not get too carried away.

“It is not life or death; we lose 10 games, I might - as a manage -r be put in a the box in the ground but as a human being I will not!

“There is a lot more to life than football but also there is a real confidence from knowing that you are doing the right things and doing them habitually.

“There is a real big saying that I carry with me from Steve Black: 'confidence comes from good preparation.'

“That is where we are at at this moment in time.

“Wimbledon will come to our stadium on Saturday, and if they have prepared superbly, have everything in place that we have got, they have done all the hard work that we have done and they beat us, then sometimes you just have to tip your hat to them and congratulate them on a job well done.”