Joey Barton on Sunderland, Phil Parkinson and the League One promotion picture
Joey Barton says Phil Parkinson is a ‘great coach’ who needs time to be a success after the 1-1 draw on New Year’s Day.
The draw meant Fleetwood maintained their four-point cushion over the Black Cats in the table, with many supporters unhappy with Parkinson’s management, the new boss having won just three times since replacing Jack Ross.
It remains a wide-open division, with both sides maintaining realistic hopes of a play-off push at the very least.
“They are a good side and you need time to implement your ideas. It doesn't matter who you are, whether you are Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp, you need time,” Barton said.
"If you come in mid-season it is even more difficult. Phil is a great coach and he knows these leagues and knows what it takes to get teams out of them.
"He knows how to get teams organised and you don't win at Doncaster and come here and get a point if you are a poor side.
"I understand there is a different expectation. Fortunately for me I don't have that. Being competitive and taking these teams on is what our fans want to see.
"There's probably about 10 teams up there and there is huge pressure on four or five of them. The likes of us, there is no pressure on because of the size of us and it is the same with Wycombe and Oxford and a couple of other sides.
"The players who thrive under pressure, I think you can see in the Sunderland side. I think with Phil at the helm, he just needs time and backing.
"Sunderland fans, I have played against them many times, and if they are behind a manager and behind a team they can be an extra couple of per cent for their side.”
Barton courted controversy after the game by claiming his side’s early penalty had been a ‘stonewall’ decision, but he also conceded that Sunderland were worthy at the least of the point they took from the game.
“Both sides missed some really good chances,” he said.
“I thought we were going to get home because they have hit the post, Al [Cairns] has made an unbelievable save and then O'Nien blasts over from six yards.
"I was thinking this was going to be our day and it would have been harsh on Sunderland to take no points.
"I thought it was a really good game. Two good sides having it and the Boxing Day effect on both teams meant we were both a bit more open defensively than we would like to be.
"It was another point gained."