“It will either be a roaring success or a total disaster”
That phrase from Fleetwood fan Dave Somers sums up the mixed reaction among the fans as the Highbury faithful wait with bated breath for the arrival of Joey Barton.
A week on from Barton’s appointment, this has been an unusual unveiling of a new boss as Barton is banned from football until June for breaching FA betting rules.
The Gazette put out a social media appeal for fans’ views on his prospects.
Neil Thomas struck a positive note: “Forward thinking move as usual by Andy Pilley. Certainly splitting opinion already but personally I think given a little time and with the help of a more experienced assistant this has the potential to be a superb appointment.”
Jonathan Tombs shares the enthusiasm: “Great appointment. Looking forward to it and excited. A young, hungry English lad with bags of football experience and knowledge. Won’t take any rubbish off players and has a lot of contacts. Can see a fighting side in Fleetwood next season.”
But it’s no surprise Barton has divided opinion. Louise wrote: “I cannot understand how a family-oriented club can employ such a man. I hope he proves me wrong.”
‘Becca’ added: “As a life long Fleetwood fan I’m anything but pleased. If it works, fair play but I’m not sure it was the best idea.”
After Town’s four seasons in League One, Darren Dickinson hopes the Barton appointment will help them push on as the club bids to reach the second tier.
He said: “Fleetwood like to take a chance. The club’s stagnated in recent seasons. Need a leader and visionary to push on.
“Feel Barton will be given more control over recruitment and retention than recent managers, and will challenge roles within the structure. Pilley will back him to the hilt.”
One of those who sees the appointment as a gamble is Fleetwood super-fan Ben Knapman, who has been to every League One game this term.
He wrote: “Joey Barton: what a risk that is! Let’s hope he brings some of his footballing contacts in.
“The worry is the lack of experience he has and his problems in football.”
Andrew Blundell shared those mixed feelings: “It feels like a gamble. Positive, young, hungry guy wanting to establish himself ... but any future trouble will tarnish the club.”
Martin Crane will be renewing his ticket but said: “I’ve never questioned anything Pilley has done and I have no doubt that in footballing terms he will always do what is best for the club.
“Barton could become an outstanding manager but as a human being he is appalling.”
‘Justa Guy’ thinks other high-profile ex-players would be preferable and wrote: “Lampard, Gerrard, Scholes, Nicky Butt, Dave Unsworth or how about trying to tempt Charlie Adam as player / head coach. All the above would be looking for a chance.
“So what happens at Q&As when Barton doesn’t like the questions? Punches flying?”
Some see Barton’s strong personality as a positive. Paul Fulbrook wrote: “Cannot wait for him to arrive. A few players in the team need a kick up the backside.”
Ryan Lea added: “Exciting – he speaks well, knows the game and will hopefully get us back to winning ways, while being hated by everyone.”