If Joey Barton was looking to slip quietly away from life on the pitch, he knows he is going about it the wrong way.
What he has let himself in for by taking charge at League One Fleetwood Town for his first job in management will be an education if nothing else.
The former midfielder is aware that he will never escape his ‘rap sheet’ from his days as a combative player and outspoken radio pundit.
But as he prepares to make a tour of 23 lower league grounds – many of which will see his dugout within touching distance of opinionated opposition supporters – the 35-year-old reckons he has 30 million reasons to succeed in the hot seat, with half the country willing him to fall flat on his face.
Barton said: “Yeah, probably 30 million, if you split the country in half.
“If you go to Scotland, it’s probably five million and there are only five million people in Scotland. So, you’ve got to be aware of it.
“They’ll probably be there with the voodoo dolls. That’s life, isn’t it?
“I used to feed off that when I was a player, certainly a younger player. I hope everybody loves me as a coach and loves me as a manager, but I’m realistic.
“Everybody thinks I’m going to fail, they’d expect me to have blow-ups and fail.
“I’ve got lots to prove because there will be people expecting the Joey Barton caricature that was a player and a media pundit to be rolled out as a manager.
“The beauty for me is I am so under-rated that all everyone has ever seen is me on talkSPORT and all the blow ups and rap sheet.
“Nobody expects me to be successful, usually I am in my element in that scenario – backs to the wall. I feel I come alive in that.
“When I went to Scotland and everybody expected great things of me it didn’t particularly work as planned.
“I will regret that I wasn’t successful at Rangers but all the negativity of that will help me be successful as a coach.”
Barton is free to work in football again after being suspended for 18 months by the FA in April 2017 after he was found to have placed 1,260 bets on matches over 10 years.
His punishment was reduced by five months on appeal and ended on June 1.
He was planning to rejoin Burnley, where he has huge respect for boss Sean Dyche, to keep on playing next season.
But after talks with Fleetwood owner Andy Pilley he has hung up his boots and accelerated his plans to become a boss.
Barton has penned a three-year deal worth £150,000-a-season, with Fleetwood taregeting promotion.
He has his A and B coaching licences and will now be giving everything to make it as a boss.
He said: “There is that burning ambition as a coach to achieve everything I never achieved as a player.
“But I can’t get too far ahead of myself because I have lots of things to do at Fleetwood.
“I have to earn the right to get in those spaces to achieve everything I want to achieve.
“It would be easier to sit and do the nine to five, take the kids home from school and go and play golf a few times a week, do talkSPORT at weekends, criticise everybody for what they’re not doing well. Sat in my ivory tower.
“But that’s not me. You’ve got to get out there. Put up or shut up. Let’s get out there, get the hands dirty and see if we can coach.”
Barton is pleased to have a new focus after admitting to dark days lounging around at home during his ban before finding a purpose on the airwaves.
He said: “Depression isn’t part of my nature. I’m quite optimistic, but when people talk about that darkness descending, I was getting out of bed at 11 or 12 o’clock.
“My purpose since leaving school was to be a professional footballer and then that’s gone and you never know whether you can get that back.
“That’s scary when you think ‘what is my purpose?’
“Now, I jump out of bed because I’ve got a purpose, to be the best version I can possibly be as a coach and a manager.”
Will Joey Barton be a success at Fleetwood?
1000+ VOTES SO FAR
Source: Read Full Article