Barton: Sad to Hear Some of the Noises Circling Around Here
Wednesday, 4th Mar 2020 11:10
Fleetwood boss Joey Barton felt his side’s 1-0 victory over the Blues was one of the biggest wins he’s had in his fledgling managerial career and thought the fractious Portman Road atmosphere was of a type which is “very, very rarely productive”.
Ched Evans netted the game’s only goal five minutes before half-time to send the Cod Army up to sixth in the table, six points ahead of the Blues in ninth.
“I was fortunate enough to play here, I didn’t play here that much, I think two or three times,” said Barton, who watched the game from the stand as he serves a touchline ban (bottom left, below).
“You walk in the stadium and you see Sir Alf Ramsey’s got a stand here and only last night I was watching the Bobby Robson documentary, and obviously the stand at the other end is named after Sir Bobby.
“It’s very, very rare you see that at an English football ground, a World Cup-winning manager and a World Cup semi-finalist.
“For me, in my young managerial career, it’s nice to have a team capable of coming to places like Sunderland last time out, places like Portman Road and being competitive.”
Regarding his team’s display before the break, he said: “I spoke to the lads after the half and we’re winning 1-0 and managing the tie, but we challenged the players after the Sunderland game to keep the ball more, especially away from home, especially against the good sides.
“We thought we had to be braver and keep more possession, I thought we were excellent at that in the first period.
“In the second half, I think we just got a little away from that. But I think you have to give credit to Ipswich, obviously in front of the home fans and fighting to stay in the play-off picture.
“They did respond and we had to defend our goal correctly in the second period to make sure we got that valuable clean sheet and take the three points back up the road to the Fylde coast.”
Before the teams met at Highbury in October Barton labelled the Town squad “probably as bad as a group of players as Ipswich have had in a long time”, something he now admits was a tactical error, the Blues having won that match 1-0.
“I got asked questions in the build-up to it and me being maybe a little bit naive in my managerial career, I thought it would be interesting to test the boundaries of Ipswich’s psychology,” he recalled.
“Well, on that day it backfired because they beat us 1-0, so I thought I best not try that again because it didn’t work for us last time, and let the players do the talking and not give Paul [Lambert] and his players an extra motivation.
“They already had enough, they had to beat us tonight to go above us and are trying to maintain their own promotion push.
“That was something I had to learn as part of my naivety but it’s been a steep learning curve since the day I took the job.”
After it was suggested the comments he made were spot on, Barton added: “You’re probably best asking everybody else connected with Ipswich, I haven’t seen enough of them this season other than the times we’ve played them.
“You’re always trying to seek a psychological advantage and I’d obviously seen the likes of Jose Mourinho and Alex Ferguson, masters at it, over the years and I thought I’ll try that but ultimately I ended up with a bit of egg on my face and I think the Ipswich players took it in the right manner because they clearly responded for their manager.
“They left a number of the articles pinned to our away dressing room, so they told me in no uncertain terms about the state of those comments.
“For me, it’s one of those, it’s a game of football. I know those lads are competing as hard as they can and we are, and I think managers and players, you’re always looking for little bits of psychological one-upmanship if you can get them.
“On that occasion I think I tried it and lost, and on this occasion I didn’t try anything and won. Maybe the recipe going forward.”
Quizzed on whether it was the biggest win of his time in charge of Fleetwood, he said: “In terms of the size of club, yes, I suppose, but we beat Sunderland last season, we’ve beaten some big sides as well in terms of the stakes of the division in the last few weeks. Portsmouth, we knocked them over, Peterborough, we beat them, Wycombe were second in the table at the time.
“We’ve gone to some very, very difficult places over the course of the games and I think in League One, you could label any club. I think everybody at this stage, barring one or two teams are fighting for something, whether that’s to stay up or go up.
“We’re at the business end of the season and we knew when the fixtures come out that we’re going to have to come here on a Tuesday night and if this place is rocking and they’re in full flow, it’s going to be a difficult place because you’ve got to remember we’ve got 88 fans here today, we were massively outnumbered.
“But they were superb, they were getting behind the lads and it’s strange for me because all the clubs I’ve played for have had massive fanbases but coming to Fleetwood and seeing how fans get on a coach or get in a car and drive from Fleetwood to Ipswich on a Tuesday night to support the boys, whether it’s 100,000 or one, we must be enormously thankful for that because [citing the quote at the back of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand], without your supporters, no matter how many they are, what is a football club?
“It was sad to hear some of the noises circling around here today because that is very, very rarely productive for successful football.
“They’re a great football club with good traditions and, as I say, Bobby Robson, Sir Alf amongst a plethora of household names they’ve had as managers and it’s for us now to see how far we can push on as a team.
“If you’d have told me going into March we’d be on the run we are and we’d beaten Ipswich here to go into play-off contention I think everybody at Fleetwood Town would have taken that.
“We’re in the shake-up, maybe a little bit of a dark horse, outsiders compared to some of the other sides but we feel we’ve got a really good team and if we keep progressing and the lads keep improving and trying to learn implement all the stuff they do, it doesn’t matter the size of the football club when the teams cross the white line and I think we showed that today.”
Asked whether the fractious Portman Road atmosphere helped his club, he said: “For me I was getting worried I was getting drawn into that little bit of negativity that was clearly in the ether.
“And I thought we were getting drawn into playing at Ipswich’s tempo because when we played at our tempo in the first half I didn’t think they could get near is.
“I just felt we got affected by the lethargy in the game. We actually gave our lads a little bit of a rollocking at half-time about upping the tempo because I felt we should have been gone at half-time, ‘Look, you mightn’t get as good a side play as poor as they did in the first half’.
“You’re expecting Paul to get a response out of his players and, as I said, I think they did, Ched’s headed a couple off the line, Alex Cairns made a couple of saves, that’s for us to be proud of our defence.
“But they haven’t rolled over and died, we haven’t beaten them 5-0 or 6-0 here, they’re fighting, albeit I think Ipswich will be really disappointed at losing a key game to a promotion rival, albeit the fact that we are a promotion rival of theirs will irk a lot of the Ipswich faithful.
“They’ve got a tough game against Coventry on Saturday but we’ve got a tough game against Blackpool, there are no easy games in League One, you just have to keep the focus of one game at a time and I think we’re the testimony to that, and Wycombe are the testimony to that.
“Just keep plugging away, if you keep working hard and you’ve got good players and a good squad, you never know what can happen.”
Photos: Action Images/TWTD
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