'There are a lot of things that are wrong' - Joey Barton opens up on problems facing Bristol Rovers ahead of Sunderland clash
Joey Barton hasn’t held back in his damning assessment of the problems facing Bristol Rovers ahead of the weekend visit of Sunderland.
Rovers are deep in relegation trouble and a 1-0 defeat at home to Swindon Town on Tuesday evening further heightened fears they could be playing in the fourth tier next season.
Barton, who only took charge last month, insists he is in it for the long haul, with Rovers 21st in the League One table and occupying the fourth and final relegation spot.
Following the defeat, Barton revealed to Bristol Live he had held a meeting with owner Wael Al Qadi and CEO Martyn Starnes to discuss the 90 minutes and next steps.
Barton revealed: “There are many issues at this club and it’s my job to address that.
"I’ve just come out of a discussion with the owner and CEO there and we were saying we’ve just got to keep everybody upbeat and positive, I’ve been brought in here for the great reset.
"Clearly, there are a lot of things that are wrong and need to be put right, I’m fully aware of all of those but I can only say to the Rovers fans that I’m fully aware of it.
"I can’t speak about them publicly because it’s got to stay inside our football club on the inner confines of everything.
"Obviously, the January window was taken away from me, there are players who need to have a long hard look at themselves and wonder whether they want to be a part of this football club going forward.
"I spoke about that on Saturday and I’m speaking about that again today and that’s not me being aggressive or threatening anybody, that’s me simply saying that this football club deserves more and they will get more in the future."
He added: “At the minute, everything we build is built on sand because because of the structural damage that’s been done.
"Before we turned up, we hadn’t had the opportunity to train the lads because you’re just preparing for games. We can’t get work sessions into them because there’s a game every three days, so we’re just freshening the lads up and giving them as much information as they can take on board at the moment.
"Especially when they’re in a low confidence mode because they’ve been in the wrong part of the league table for a large part of the season.
"It won’t suffice everybody and I know that from speaking to the supporters, I can’t explain how we’re going to get there because as I’ve said that’s mapped out. I know exactly how we can do it but I can’t activate on that at the moment,” added Barton.
Sunderland meanwhile, are pushing for promotion back to the Championship and are well positioned in the hunt for an automatic promotion place.
Lee Johnson’s men – who won the Papa John’s Trophy earlier this month – head into the game on the back of the 1-1 draw with Lincoln City at the Stadium of Light last weekend.