Joey Barton has learnt from mistakes of the past and can prove a “huge success” as he makes his first steps into management as head coach at Fleetwood, according to chairman Andy Pilley.
The 35-year-old has signed a three-year contract from June 2, when his suspension for breaking Football Association betting rules expires.
The appointment of the controversial former England midfielder by the Sky Bet League One club has been greeted with a mixed response, but chairman Pilley is confident Barton is the right man at the right time for Fleetwood.
“There is a risk in any appointment, but knowing Joe as I do, I am supremely confident he will be a huge success.”
Pilley has built his relationship with Barton since the midfielder trained at the club while he was serving a 12-match ban after being found guilty of two counts of violent conduct on the final day of the 2011-12 season against Manchester City.
Despite plenty of controversies on and off the pitch, Pilley feels Barton, who will take over from caretaker boss John Sheridan, can help progress the Cod Army as they target promotion to the Sky Bet Championship.
“I have known Joe for a long time. I think he is going to be a top, top coach and I was happy to offer him the job,” Pilley added on Sky Sports News.
“Joe will match everything about this club. We try and be ground-breaking, we try to be forward thinking, that is two descriptions I would give to Joe. I think we will be aligned on and off the pitch.”
Pilley insisted he was “not at all” concerned over Barton’s temperament.
“I know him well, like most people he has made mistakes in the past, but I think he has learned from those mistakes and I am confident that it will be a great appointment for us,” the Fleetwood chairman added.
The EFL is committed to tackling the under-representation of black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) coaches across all 72 member clubs. However, it remains a voluntary recruitment code as part of an extended trial period and not yet in the regulations.
Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, were contacted for comment on Barton’s appointment by the Press Association, but did not issue a statement.
Pilley, however, defended Fleetwood’s recruitment process. “My last two managers, one was a German and one was Irish – so nobody could every accuse us of not being an equal-opportunity club,” he said.
Barton’s backroom staff have yet to be confirmed, along with whether the 35-year-old will also be registered as a player.
Sheridan, appointed on a short-term basis following the sacking of Uwe Rosler during February, remains focused on the job in hand as he prepares the squad for Saturday’s home match against leaders Wigan.
“We knew the circumstances, so in a way it’s not a shock to people,” Sheridan said at a press conference, as quoted on the club’s official website.
“I am looking forward to the next three games and trying to win every one of them.”