Joey Barton makes no apologies for changing his entire Fleetwood side for the League Cup tie at Leicester, having learned an important lesson by speaking to Gary Neville about his failed venture into management at Valencia .
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Town had reached the second round for the first time but boss Barton made 11 changes for Tuesday’s 4-0 defeat, resting his strongest side for Saturday’s League One clash with Bradford City.
Barton cited former Manchester United full-back Neville, who took charge of the Spanish club in 2015-2016 and reached the semi-final of the Copa del Rey, yet was still sacked after a run of 14 points from 16 league games.
And Barton says that like Neville he will be judged on league results as he prepares for Saturday’s Highbury test with his team fully rested.
He said: “We have got some really good players who were not at Leicester and some really good players who were on the bench.
“You have to take an opportunity to get rest into your players, especially when the schedule throws up the games we have got so soon in a season.
“We understand there will be the Checkatrade and FA Cup to come but the priority for us is League One. We cannot lose focus of that.
“I’m not going to lose my job if we get knocked out of the League Cup by Leicester. I am going to lose my job if we continually lose in the league.
“I’m a new manager. I spoke to Gary Neville about Valencia. He said he went at the cup competitions and ultimately lost his job because of that. You cannot take too much on too soon.
“Yeah, it is nice to have a cup run but we made a lot of changes for Crewe (in the first round).
“We trusted the lads to deliver a performance and on that night they did.
“Unfortunately on Tuesday they ran into a side jam-packed with top players.
“I told the lads their effort was first-class. I’m not going to criticise any of them –it is about how they train next time and how they respond.
“You can sulk and feel sorry for yourself, which does not help anyone, or you can dust yourself down and learn your lessons. That is the challenge for the players.”