Joey Barton takes Fleetwood Town to Sunderland on Saturday.
A very interesting encounter for various reasons, not least due to the Fleetwood boss’ past ‘relationship’ with the Sunderland fans.
Whilst many doubted his appointment though, you can’t argue about the job he has done so far with meagre resources.
Sixth place Fleetwood will overtake the fourth placed Mackems, if the visitors are successful and take away the three points.
Whilst in terms of resources, Joey Barton admits it is ‘David and Goliath’, he denies it is that situation on the pitch, instead declaring ‘I think we are slightly better than them!’
Needless to say, more than a few Newcastle fans will be raising their glasses to Joey Barton on Saturday night if he pulls this one off.
Barton’s ormer NUFC teammate Ryan Taylor is currently a free agent and training with Fleetwood but no news yet on whether he will be signed up. Another ‘over the wall’ on Saturday would have been an extra nice bonus.
Joey Barton asked at his pre-match press conference about managing a team against Sunderland:
“Saturday will be a very proud moment for this football club, and if you asked Andy Pilley when he started his journey with this football club as Chairman if he would be coming up against Sunderland in front of thirty odd thousand fans, he’d have told you that you were mad!
“When you look at where Fleetwood have come from and how they are progressing still, because there still is a gap between ourselves and Sunderland in size and structure; we will be going there in form and I honestly believe we aren’t a million miles away from them as a team.
“For me it’s another game and as a player, I played in big derby matches and one was against Sunderland and I just see the three points on the line. Just like it was against Bradford last Saturday.
“That is our challenge, we are in the league with some big clubs and Sunderland aren’t the first to club of their size to be in League One with the likes of the two Sheffield teams and Leeds, so we go there with a shot of picking up the points.
“The weirdest thing about it all is that there will be more people in the stadium on Saturday than there will be in Fleetwood, so that’s a novel fact.
“It’s like David and Goliath in terms of finances and the supporters, but on the pitch is where it matters, and I don’t see a David versus Goliath. I think we are slightly better than them!”
Joey Barton on Newcastle United connections:
“If people want to create headlines, sub headlines in papers about me, crack on. I am here to focus on my players and how they play on Saturday.
“For me I need to make sure my team is well prepared to go and do what we do best on the pitch and if we do that, I will be a tough game for Sunderland.
“When you’re a player, and at Newcastle, it was a derby between us and them, and for me now it’s just another game and another team in our way trying to stop us where we want to be.
“Three years ago, I played against Sunderland for Burnley in the Premier League and it is scary to think how quickly football can put you in your place if you don’t do things correctly, and Sunderland haven’t done that, but credit to Jack Ross who has got the crowd back and the team winning games.
“It’s not easy to turn things around when things are going badly so he deserved a lot of credit.”