NIGEL PEARSON has never been a man to suffer fools.
So when he pays someone like Joey Barton warm compliments, as he did this week, they should be taken very seriously.
Joey Barton took charge of Bristol Rovers this week just a month after leaving FleetwoodCredit: Rex Features
The new Pirates boss had a dressing room bust–up with Ched EvansCredit: Rex Features
The pair arrived in Bristol on the same day, Pearson taking over his eighth club at City, Barton moving into his second job as a manager with Rovers.
Once the ink was dry on their contracts Pearson found he had been messaged by Barton, who he worked with at Newcastle.
He said: “Me and Joey exchanged a few messages. I have a lot of time and respect for him. He’s a very intelligent man. I think he’s got a bright future.
“People have preconceived ideas but the reality can be different.”
Those pre-conceived ideas that the 57-year-old talks about are created by the baggage Barton carries around with him.
In keeping with a life of controversy he headed out of Fleetwood under a cloud.
Cod Army chairman Andy Pilley who, on appointing him two-and-a-half years earlier described him as a potential great in management, dumped him.
The decision came after a dressing room bust–up with Ched Evans and clashes with other senior players.
The pair are understood to have come to blows over a comedy skit created by the striker that Barton did not find funny and he was dispatched to Preston.
After he left, Barton revealed he had fallen out with the man who gave him his first chance as a boss, the day after a ban for betting on matches ended.
Their relationship, like that between him and some of the players, had soured while some members of staff also left during Barton’s reign.
The 38-year-old is currently awaiting trial over an alleged clash with former Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel following a match at Oakwell in April 2019.
Barton previously pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and proceedings are due to begin in June.
Yet for all of the controversy, Barton’s first job suggested many of those who believe him to be one of the brightest young bosses in the game could just be right.
Having taken control of Rovers, he now has to prove the hype has not all been just hot air.
Nigel Pearson was appointed Bristol City boss this weekCredit: Rex Features
Evans and Barton both left Fleetwood within days of each otherCredit: Rex Features
As a music lover — he has even appeared in a Morrissey video — he will know all about one–hit wonders.
And if he does not get it right and fast at the Memorial Stadium, a career in management might never make the top of the charts.
For while club president Wael al-Qadi joined in the welcoming praise, he has already sacked two managers this season in Ben Garner and Paul Tisdale.
Barton lost his first game, 2–1 at home to Wigan, 24 hours after his appointment.
He hosts Shrewsbury today with the club only above the League One relegation zone on goal difference.
His team have lost eight of their last 11 games, winning only once.
Barton, on a contract until 2023, is determined to prove he is the real deal and certainly talks a good game.
He did, after all, take Fleetwood into last season’s play-offs.
Luke McCormick, SkyBet’s Goal of the Month winner, is delighted to have Barton as bossCredit: Instagram / @official_brfc
He said: “Somebody, at some point, is going to get Rovers right. Mobilise that passionate fan base and get the supporters travelling across the country, pushing their team onto bigger and better things.
“I think I’m the man for it. I’m absolutely convinced it’s going to be this group of players we’ve got here and this group of coaches.”
One of those players, Luke McCormick, is delighted to have Barton as his new boss.
The 22-year-old won SkyBet’s Goal of the Month trophy for his superb January strike against Crewe.
The box–to-box midfielder, on loan from Chelsea, insisted: “I’m sure to benefit from having someone of Joey’s experience as my manager.
“He was a Premier League midfielder, that’s where I am aiming for and he can help me get there.”
Barton might get there himself one day in his new career and prove that life is a gas as a manager. Instead of it all blowing up in his face.
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