Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton says Blackpool counterpart Neil Critchley is a quick learner

Before going head to head with Critchley at Highbury this afternoon, Barton focused on the insecurity of management having seen two fellow League One bosses sacked after recent matches against his side.

On entering today’s match in the unusual position of being the more experienced manager, Barton said: “Critch has had a lot more years on the job, but when he was coaching youth players I was playing in the Premier League against some of the best players in the world.

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Fleetwood Town head coach Joey Barton Picture: David Horn/PRiME Media Images Limited

“They’ve had a massive turnaround of players and some financial investment, and bringing someone from youth football into men’s football, there was always going to be an adjustment period.

“If you’ve coached Liverpool’s most talented youngsters you clearly have an aptitude for coaching. You knew he’d always need time and in football you don’t always get that.”

Barton says Critchley has proved he can learn fast, just as the Town boss had to in his first season in 2018-19.

“I remember when I started, you have this vision and ideology about how you want to play – and then a few games in you realise what the job is,” Barton said.

“I think Critch has shown what a good coach he is in the way they have adjusted from the early part of the season.

“He knows how he wants to play in a perfect world but he’s had the smarts and coaching acumen to get results when they’ve gone a bit more 4-4-2.

“That’s the sign of a good coach: people who don’t have one way of doing it, who can adapt to get the best out of the players and give themselves time, which is what we all need, to bring in their own identity.”

Two bosses who ran out of time were Phil Parkinson at Sunderland and Bristol Rovers’ Ben Garner, both losing their job after matches against Fleetwood in the past three weeks.

Barton added: “There are 91 other fellows in the country who feel the same as I do every Saturday, either up or down.

“Not many other people can relate to this job. I’ve seen two managers lose their jobs just after playing us and that’s horrible.

“We are competing but sometimes you have to realise that’s another human being. When you see people under pressure and fans not happy, that’s not nice.

“I thought Parky was doing a good job at Sunderland and making a great fist of a very tough job.

“To be out of work just before Christmas, you can’t help but think, ‘That could be me’. And inevitably it will be me at some point if I carry on managing. You have that empathy for someone in a similar position.”

That doesn’t mean Barton won’t be going all out to get the better of Critchley’s charges this afternoon.

“This is a chance for us to beat the best version of Blackpool now they are playing well,” he added.

“They are playing good stuff, winning games and we’re similar. We’ve only beaten them once in the time I’ve been here.”

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