Joey Barton reveals what really happened at Fleetwood Town leading to his sacking with additional details emerging from the man himself.
It was just over a month ago that he departed the League One outfit, after his bust-up with Ched Evans was reported.
The 38-year-old manager was initially appointed in April 2018 and led the Cod Army to last season’s League One playoffs.
Barton left with the club in 10th position in the League One table, just three points off the play-off places.
His first season at the club was marked by controversy after an alleged clash with former Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel following a League One match at Oakwell.
Stendel was said to be left with a damaged tooth following the incident which occurred following Barnsley’s 4-2 victory in April 2019.
He was due to stand trial last summer having earlier pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, but the case was put back to June 2021 because of coronavirus and interruption to the 2019-20 season.
Ched Evans’ comedy act at Fleetwood was the final straw for unamused Barton with dressing-room sources says that the manager didnt see the funny side of the comedy routine.
Barton called out a number of players in training for wearing tights and gloves to protect themselves from the cold.
Evans used that in his slot on a punishment game called The Spin (Wheel of Fortune-style) for minor offences, which saw him land on a ‘magic trick’, so he produced pictures of Barton and his coaching staff mocked up as ‘muscle-bound super heroes’ – and then had photos of each of them wearing gloves in training sessions during their own careers.
Barton cited that it was disciplinary issues and a series of “infractions” as well as his behaviour that ultimately forced his decision to get rid of Evans
He has spoken of his desire to manage Newcastle one day, as he revealed what went wrong at Fleetwood.
“When you leave and it doesn’t go so well you think you’ve been removed for the wrong reasons,” he said.
“He was the brilliant (the chairman). He gave me an enormous opportunity probably when no-one else in world football would. It was always going to be difficult to get an opportunity with my rap sheet. In my mind I was going to go in with Dyche-y (at Burnley) and do an apprenticeship.”
Barton said that he left Fleetwood after feeling owner and chairman Andy Pilley wanted to dictate transfer and team matters. He said they both didn’t speak for ten days before he was fired and there became a “disconnect”.
Explaining what led to his departure, he said: “The chairman was good as gold (at first) in that he didn’t force his opinion on me as a senior chairman and he let me make a few of my own decisions in terms of transfers – some good, some bad, some indifferent. We finished in the play-offs in the second season.
“We came back this time and were trying to rebuild the side and I think what happened was he went into a transfer embargo (he took out an £800,000 loan from the EFL because of coronavirus). A few players were at the end of their cycle – Ched Evans, I’d had enough of him. He just wasn’t performing on the pitch and I felt we needed to improve in that position.
“When I went to speak to him, he let me know about the embargo which was a lot longer after it had happened than I felt I should have known about it. He said ‘We’re not going to go in the market or come out of the embargo’. For me I felt to get in the play-offs, and that’s what I wanted to do – I want to manage in the Premier League, we all do, that’s where I played.
“Where we were, eight points out of the play-offs if we get a couple of bodies in we’ll be there or thereabouts. We don’t need Sergio Aguero but he disagreed and felt we should have gone with the younger players. I was trying to say ‘They’re young players, we’re growing them but they’re not ready yet’.
“It got to the point where we both couldn’t be right.”
Barton also said there were disagreements about signing a new contract. “Six weeks before I was sacked I was offered a three year extension (in December) and I said ‘All my staff are on three months’ termination’. Can you sort that out? If you do I’ll sort a new deal,” he explained.
He added that was not resolved either, which led to a breakdown.
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