Barton on ‘unproductive’ Portman Road atmosphere, being inspired by Sir Bobby and ‘testing the boundaries of Ipswich’s psychology’
PUBLISHED: 10:26 04 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:26 04 March 2020
Joey Barton believes he and Fleetwood’s success at Portman Road last night shows how he has grown as a manager during this season.
Ched Evans' goal five minutes before the break was enough for Barton's side to leave Suffolk with three points, inflicting another major blow to Ipswich's ever-decreasing chance of making the play-offs.
The win is a reverse of the two sides' meeting at Highbury in October, when Kayden Jackson won the game for Ipswich, with Barton having plenty to say prior to that match as he labelled the Blues' team as the worst in the club's history and questioned whether Town had the required mentality to convert their strong start to the season into promotion.
Barton admitted his approach back-fired but was happy to get the upper-hand following the return at Portman Road.
"When we played Ipswich earlier on in the season up at our place they were on a really good run (seven wins in eight games) which is really hard to do in this division," Barton said.
"Then we've come back down here with six wins in seven games, unbeaten in 10 and one defeat in 16.
"You can imagine, when you've got my players' mindset at the minute, there's no fear.
"I got asked questions in the build-up to it and, maybe a little naively at the start of my managerial career, I thought it would be interesting to test the boundaries of Ipswich's psychology.
"On the day it back-fired because they beat us 1-0 so I thought I'd best not try that again because it didn't work for us last time. I wanted to let the players do the talking and not give Paul (Lambert) and his players any extra-motivation. They already had enough, which was having to beat us to go above us and try to maintain a promotion push.
"That's something I've had to learn as part of my naivety but it's been a steep learning curve in the job."
When it was put to Barton that his suggestion the Blues' season might not be 'based on solid foundations', the Fleetwood boss continued: "You're better off asking everybody else connected with Ipswich because I've not seen enough of them, other than the times we've played them.
"You're always trying to seek a psychological advantage and we've seen the likes of (Jose) Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson be masters of it over the years. I tried it and ultimately I ended up with a bit of egg on my face because the Ipswich players took it in the right manner and clearly responded in the right manner.
"They left a number of the articles pinned to our away dressing room. They told me in no uncertain terms about the state of those comments and for me it's one of those, it's a game of football where both teams are competing hard. Managers and players are also looking for little psychological edges if you can get it.
"On that occasion I tried it and lost but on this occasion I tried nothing and won, so maybe that's the recipe for going forward."
On managing at Portman Road for the first time and taking his side into League One's top six in the process, Barton said: "You walk in the stadium and you see Sir Alf Ramsey has got a stand and Sir Bobby Robson - only last night I was watching the Sir Bobby documentary (More Than A Manager).
"It's very rare you see that at an English football ground with a World Cup winning manager and a World Cup semi-finalist.
"For a young manager just starting out it's nice to have a team capable of coming to places like this and being competitive.
"This is a club with good tradition with some legendary managers such as Sir Alf and Sir Bobby Robson and it's for us now to see how far we can push on as a team.
"If anyone had told me at the start of the season that we would be on a run like this and had beaten Ipswich at Portman Road to go into play-off contention then everyone would have taken that.
"We're a dark horse but we're in the shake-up. If the guys keep on learning and taking it onboard then who knows."
Fleetwood's victory in Suffolk came on a night where the frustrations of the Portman Road crowd were plain for all to see and hear, with chants aimed at manager Paul Lambert and owner Marcus Evans sung throughout the 90 minutes as their side failed to deliver on the pitch.
Barton believes the atmosphere helped his side, but admitted he was frustrated to see his players 'drawn into the negativity'.
"If this place was rocking and they were in full flow it would be a difficult place because we had 88 fans with us and were massively outnumbered," he said. "They were superb though.
"It's strange for me because all the clubs I played for (Manchester City, Newcastle, Marseille, Rangers) had massive fan bases but I've come to Fleetwood and seeing how fans follow this club and we must be very thankful for that.
"Without the supporters, what is a football club? (points to the banner at the back of the North Stand, showing a famous quote from Sir Bobby Robson). It was sad to hear some of the noises coming around here today because stuff like that very rarely helps produce successful football.
"I was worried we were getting drawn into the negativity which was clearly in the ether and I thought we were being drawn into playing Ipswich's tempo. When we played at our tempo in the first half I don't think they could get near us.
"We were impacted by the lethargy in the game and I gave the lads a bit of a rollocking at half-time about upping the tempo because I thought we should have been gone at the break. I felt we might not get as good a side as they are play as poorly as they did again and you expect Paul to get a response in the second half.
"Ched Evans headed a couple off the line and Alex Cairns made a couple of saves which is something for us to be proud of.
"I think Ipswich will be really disappointed to have lost a key game to a promotion rival but I think the fact we are a promotion rival to them will irk a lot of the Ipswich faithful."
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