Barker right for Pompey challenge

Thursday 19th December 2013 10:08

Richie Barker: New man in charge at Fratton Park

Richie Barker: New man in charge at Fratton Park

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FanZoner Zoe Rundle believes Richie Barker has the necessary experience to begin the task of taking Portsmouth back up the Football League.

Following three seasons of pure dismay for Portsmouth fans, yet another manager has taken on the task of lifting the south coast side back to where it belongs.

After playing at a total of nine clubs, which scatter across the four Football League divisions, Richie Barker knows exactly what it is like to face a variety of different opponents and his experience should certainly pay dividends to those in the Pompey squad. Furthermore, his managerial stints at both Bury and Crawley Town, where he achieved impressive winning statistics, will only aid him in his time at Portsmouth.

There is no doubt that Barker has the sufficient background required to take charge at Portsmouth.

His time at Bury was particularly impressive and he enjoyed a 17-month stint as first team manager after being in charge of the youth team from July 2010 to April 2011. Following Alan Knill's departure from Bury to Scunthorpe with just eight games remaining of the 2010-11 season, Barker became caretaker manager of the Lancashire side and led them to six consecutive victories and promotion to League One.

On top of this, he was named as the Football League Two Manager of the Month for April 2011 and subsequently kept Bury in League One the following season by leading them to a respectable 14th-place finish. His departure to Crawley, in August 2012, had an immediate effect with his predecessor, Shirtliff, unable to find a win in his opening six games in charge.

Similarly, Barker enjoyed a successful time at Crawley Town, where he was first team manager for 15 months.

After gaining promotion to League One in the 2011-2012 season, expectations for Barker's opening season at the club weren't exactly high; avoiding relegation would appear to have been the main target. Throughout the campaign, The Reds recorded wins against the likes of Doncaster and Bournemouth, both of who had sealed automatic promotion to the Championship by the end of April.

Furthermore, Barker's team knocked out Championship side Millwall from the FA Cup, away from home, and then went on to defeat Bolton at the Broadfield Stadium to reach the third round (where their run was cut short by Swansea who narrowly came out on top 3-2).

An impressive season saw Crawley finish 10th in League One and there were high hopes for the future. However, after failing to win any of their six opening games in the 2013-2014 season, Barker's contract was terminated.

From here, Portsmouth awaited and a tricky task lay ahead. The south coast side sat 18th in League Two upon his arrival and had lost their previous four competitive games. Not only this, three relegations in four seasons have been the result of a dire financial situation and the club can't seem to bounce back from the numerous setbacks which came their way.

Having said this, Barker has experienced success as both a player and, more recently, a manager and Pompey fans will hope that the partnership with Steve Coppell, as director of football, will work the same at Fratton Park as it did in Crawley.

Despite a 2-0 defeat to Newport in Barker's opening match as Portsmouth manager, the upcoming months still remain unclear and it's hard to read much into this first result due to the short amount of time the Englishman had spent in charge down south prior to the match.

The future is rather ambiguous for Portsmouth and it remains to be seen whether the club can emulate the success which both Bury and Crawley achieved under Barker. One thing's for sure: Blues fans would certainly love to see the high times once again and three points in the upcoming game, away to 22nd-placed Bristol Rovers, could be the start of a long journey back to success.

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