The results may not necessarily show it, but Joey Barton has risen the standards at Bristol Rovers since he was appointed manager of the club, says Jack Baldwin, per the Bristol Post.
Barton is Rovers’ third manager of the season, following on from both Ben Garner and Paul Tisdale, and it meant a quick return to work for the former Premier League player, who departed Fleetwood Town in early January.
Barton was sold the vision of the Gas and penned a two-and-a-half year deal, but he’s not been privy to the new manager bounce that some clubs get when they decide to make a change in the dugout.
Rovers have taken just seven points out of a possible 27 since Barton’s arrival and have suffered three losses on the bounce – the latest coming to fellow lowly side Swindon Town.
The games don’t get much easier with high-flying Sunderland coming up tomorrow, and a former Black Cat player in Jack Baldwin has praised Barton’s efforts so far as they face a relegation battle for the rest of the campaign.
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“The staff have come in and lifted the spirits around the camp, the standards have gone up noticeably which probably should’ve come from us players earlier on,” said Baldwin.
“Now we’ve got people driving it from all around the changing room and we can only get better from here, so the future is definitely positive.”
It’s perhaps surprising that Barton decided to take on the Rovers job when they were noticeably struggling, especially as he could have potentially got a better job in League One had he waited until the end of the season.
From Baldwin’s words though it sounds like Barton is doing his best to try and rally the squad together as they come up to a crucial period in the season – whether his best will be good enough is another matter.
The fact of the matter is that Rovers are in a precarious position – four teams go down from League One every season and right now there looks to be six teams in that battle, with the Gas sitting in the final spot below the drop zone.
But if Barton can get the standards raised on game-day to what he has on the training pitch, then Rovers should be able to rally and stay in the third tier for another season.