Joey Barton faces a real test of his managerial pedigree at Bristol Rovers, with the former midfielder seeking to guide the Gas to safety in League One.
He took over a side that is well in what has been referred to in some quarters as a relegation mini-league, with just four points separating Rovers in 19th place and Northampton Town at the bottom of the league standings.
Keeping up a side whose top scorer only has seven goals is a tough ask for any new boss let alone someone of Barton’s little experience, with the ex-Marseille man’s only previous stint as a manager coming at Fleetwood Town, for whom he was with for just under three years.
The Cod Army gave him the financial backing that he needed to be successful there but it is yet unclear as to whether that will be the case at the Memorial Stadium.
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Here, we take a look at TWO obstacles that Joey Barton is facing at Bristol Rovers…
Lack of goals
The Gas have only found the net in the league on 30 occasions this term and as a result are the joint second lowest scorers in the entire division alongside AFC Wimbledon.
This underlines a really big obstacle that simply must be overcome if they are to stand any chance of staying in League One this season.
A switch to Barton’s preferred 4-3-3 system could well pay dividends for Rovers, with the club having largely operated with a three at the back formation for much of the campaign so far.
The focal point of one striker up top being supported by two wide men and two advanced midfielders could well create more chances for the goal-shy Gas and as a result see them find the back of the net on a consistent basis.
The club’s away form is also bound to be a concern for their new manager, with Rovers having failed to have taken three points away from home since as far back as 5th December when they won 4-2 at Wimbledon.
Their form is pretty steady at the Memorial Stadium, with the team having made themselves tough to beat at times, however picking up points at other grounds is imperative going forwards.
With games to come against fellow strugglers Burton Albion, Swindon and Northampton Town, Barton will be confident of turning their bad form around over the coming months.
If they can alleviate the issues that they face on the road, there’s no reason why the club can’t put some real distance between themselves and the dreaded relegation zone.