Bristol Rovers sack manager Joey Barton after two and a half year tenure at the Gloucestershire club

Published on 31 October 2023 at 13:00

The 41 year old was dismissed on Thursday by Bristol Rovers after one win in his last five League One matches, with new Kuwaiti owner Hussain Al Saeed insisting his departure was due to recent results and performances not reflecting the monetary injection put into the club.

 

Barton was appointed manager of Bristol Rovers on 22 February 2021 by former majority shareholder chairman Wael Al-Qadi, with the club embroiled in a relegation battle two points above the drop zone. However, the former Fleetwood Town manager was unable to steer the Pirates to safety in his debut campaign and they were officially relegated to the fourth division of English football on April 24 2021. They finished nine points from safety in 24th place, but the controversial maverick was given a chance at redemption in his second season at Memorial Lane.

 

The former Manchester City, Newcastle United and QPR player was successful in securing immediate promotion back to League One in his first full season after a dramatic final day. Bristol Rovers had to score a staggering five goals to go above Northampton Town and slip into the final automatic promotion slot. They humiliated relegated Scunthorpe Town 7-0 which saw them secure promotion on goals scored after both teams finished on 80 points.

Barton guided Bristol Rovers to a 17th place finish last season in the club's return to League One where they finished eight points above the relegation zone. However, he became the fifth managerial casualty in the third division this season after leaving the club in 13th place with five wins in their opening 14 matches.

One of the catalysts for his departure, was the club's takeover by Hussain Al Saeed this summer who bought a 55% share in Dwane Sports. The new owner eradicated the club's debt and funded a spending spree this transfer window where 12 new signings arrived. Expectations changed under Al Saeed who targeted a top eight finish at the club and he was desperate to bring a pedigree EFL manager into the dugout who has a track record of earning promotion to the Championship.

A divisive and temperamental character, Barton appeared to always be on borrowed time under Al Saeed and his rapidly escalating poor conduct this season looks to have become too distracting. In his final game at Bristol Rovers, which ended 1-1 against Stevenage Barton called opposing manager Steve Evans a "fat man" and "weeble". This completely jeopardised the club's image, with Rovers joining the flagship EFL project 'Fit Fans' which is aimed to encourage adults between 36 and 65 to stay healthy and active.

 

His unfiltered criticism of attacker Luke Thomas in the 2-0 defeat to Peterborough in early October where he referred to his player as "one idiotic young boy" painted him as a bullish figure, who was losing control of his players.

Nevertheless, Barton had survived controversy before in October 2021 he suffered a severe backlash for his anti-semitic reference comparing his team's poor performance to the holocaust. Al Saeed insisted following Barton's sacking that his decision was not due to Barton's character where he emphasised that he was fully aware of the 41 year old's contentious manner and was always behind his manager.

Al Saeed stated: "When we came this summer we invested in players and I think for that budget, comparing to other budgets in the league, we should be around the top eight if not better"

Bristol Rovers faced a struggling Northampton Town this weekend and interim manager Andy Magan lead his team to a 2-1 victory in the first game since Barton's departure.

A host of high profile EFL managers have been linked with the vacant position at the Memorial Stadium with the current frontrunner former Charlton Athletic manager Dean Holden. The 44 year old was dismissed by Charlton in August and has been involved in discussions with Bristol Rovers over becoming Barton's successor. Other names linked with the job are Steve Cotterill, Ian Holloway and recently sacked Gillingham manager Neil Harris. Rovers are linked with an ambitious pursuit of former Birmingham City manager John Eustace who was sacked by the club's owners to bring in Wayne Rooney.

Barton has recently been seen enjoying his free time watching Liverpool against Toulouse in the Europa League, meanwhile Bristol Rovers face Whitby Town in the first round of the FA Cup this Saturday.

Written by Lewis Eadie

Instragram - @the_beautgame1

Twitter - @The_BeautGame1

 

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Sean
9 months ago

Someone needs a geography lesson (i.e. Bristol is a City and not in Gloucestershire)