Home Sports Every word Joey Barton said on Cheltenham win, Bristol Rovers transfers, Anssi...

Every word Joey Barton said on Cheltenham win, Bristol Rovers transfers, Anssi Jaakkola’s injury


A 2-0 victory, how pleased were you with that performance?

Yeah, obviously we’re still a work in progress. There’s stuff we’re working on. We tried a few different things and I thought the lads were superb. I thought they really grew into the game, certainly in the second period.

I was surprised to see Sam Nicholson score a header, he’s more renowned for scoring with his feet but we asked him to get in there and get tap-ins, rather than the spectacular ones

Getting some young lads minutes and young Jed Ward a clean sheet and making a great save towards the end, I’m really pleased.

You mentioned Sam Nicholson there, how pleased are you to see him kick on, not just with a goal tonight but with his fitness and getting closer to 90 minutes as well?

Yeah there’s a few guys out there tonight, obviously we want to win games and I said on Saturday after the Barrow game. We’ve got lads who are still needing minutes, Sammy (Nicholson) being one of those playing two 30 minutes to a 60-odd minutes on Saturday and he’s backed that up again tonight.

We’re going into a game Saturday and then there’s a few week-spaces in the fixtures until the end of the month, which I think will really benefit the group.

I think we’ve got lads who are needing minutes at this point because of a disrupted pre-season and games like that and performances like that, no doubt will help those boys along.

A win puts you top of the group, but how important is that for momentum in the league too?

For me, I said we haven’t been in the habit of winning games of football, it’s not something that’s been around since I’ve been at the club and we want to get that winning momentum.

Winning I believe is a habit that you have to work really hard to pick up as is losing a habit you have to work really hard to drop.

As disappointed as we were Saturday, we’re really pleased with the performance tonight and there was real positivity throughout the group, certainly once they got the first goal.

I thought they settled really well and pressed superbly as a team. I think a few people have further enhanced their credentials for starting in the league on Saturday.

It’s deadline day too of course, you’ve brought in three signings, what can you tell us about them?

It’s just a lot of experience. Junior (Brown) is someone who’s had promotions in the past. I felt like we had a little bit of a problem in the squad if we were to pick up a couple of injuries in those slots.

He’s been with us for two weeks and worked enormously hard to earn himself a contract. Obviously Leon (Clarke) is somebody who has got a wealth of experience higher up the pyramid.

We needed somebody in the frontline to get us a platform to get up the back. Obviously, we’d have liked to do another in that space but the market is really scarce, in terms of the number nine types.

So we’re delighted to have Leon because we think he can add a lot to the group and certainly the way we want to play he gives us a good solid platform.

New Gas striker Leon Clarke has been training with the club for several weeks (Picture: Bristol Rovers FC)

We felt we had another done, a younger version, but Championship clubs are taking him. Then it turns out the Premier League club he’s at aren’t even going to let him out.

He was on the bench at the weekend and they’re not going to let him out which is again a further indicator.

There’s lots of winger types in the market at this moment but there’s not many number nine types. You do get that in certain transfer windows and I think I need someone tried and tested who can stick the ball and get us up the pitch.

We’ve brought Brett (Pitman) in to score us the goals. He’s still striving for fitness and the 90 on Saturday will hopefully bring him on.

Clarke comes in as well now to join Harvey Saunders and Aaron Collins to show hopefully the qualities that he’s shown in the past where he’s been a spearhead and a massive part in promotion campaigns for other football clubs.

Antony Evans I think is a real coup for us at 22 years of age. He just came back from a stint in the Bundesliga.

He didn’t get the minutes he probably was looking for, but he played very well against us for Crewe Alexandra here last year and again he’s somebody who can really add quality to those midfield departments.

A dead-ball specialist, a real eye for goal as a midfielder, so I think he’ll be a real good addition.

It was a busy summer for Bristol Rovers in terms of incoming and outgoings. Now that we’re hours away from it finishing. How pleased are you with your business this summer?

When I look at the business we’ve done over the window, we’ve hopefully got a little more to do before the closing stages, but really pleased.

I think we’re 16 confirmed at the moment, maybe get to 17, possibly even 18 and on the other side of that 20+ going out.

Aaron Collins battles for the ball with Cheltenham’s Will Taylor of (Andy Watts/JMP)

So a huge turnaround, we’re going to need more time. One win tonight is not going to be, that’s us away and running now. We’ve got a lot of hard work in front of us on the training ground and as I say, I’m really pleased with the recruitment and when I look at the market there’s only probably one player that I’ve missed out on, that in hindsight I should’ve taken.

But every other target we’ve taken, we just need time to bed them in.

Joey there’s 75 minutes left of the window, is there anything else on the cards? Have you got anyone in the building you’re looking to get done?

A minute in football is a long time. I’ve just spoken to Wael now. We’ve just gone one million higher than Real Madrid for Mbappe, so we’re waiting to hear back. We’ve gone for £229m. Wael has kindly put up that money so hopefully they accept it, but we’re waiting to see.

We’re hoping to do at least one more. The challenge we have is we’ve got to get 22 in the squad and we’ve still got players who didn’t get out.

Zain Westbrooke’s back in the fold because he couldn’t find himself somewhere to play more consistent football.

We’ve missed one or two players when they haven’t been available for loan when we thought they would be, or they’ve got interest from higher up the pyramid.

You’re at that point when you’re just bringing someone in for the sake of it, and Westy can come back into the group now if we don’t take an extra one.

Zain Westbrooke with James Belshaw after the win over Cheltenham (Andy Watts/JMP)

He gets a chance of fighting for his place, and the way we played tonight and with the system we played, shirts are up for grabs and we want competition right throughout the group.

Young Ryan Jones gets on the park tonight. We’ve got Pablo Martinez to come back, Luca Hoole when he’s fit, so we’ve got some nice options.

I’m really looking forward to this team bedding in, getting the crowd back in and getting some positive results and performances.

I think the boys, with the support and once we start clicking, could really achieve something special this season

Glenn Whelan has been another one training with you, is he the one you’re indicating could happen?

Yeah. we’re trying to work on Whelo, because he’s 198 you have to make sure you do a thorough medical on him, so it’s just the stages of that.

We’re pretty much there, I imagine that will be ironed out in the next 75 minutes and then we’ve still got one space in the squad so there might be a one in one out there. But at this moment I don’t think it will happen.

So you can go to sleep tonight.

Harvey Saunders he’s Mr Papa John’s. Top goalscorer last season and he’s off the mark in the first game of this season …

Did he finish top goalscorer last season?

Do you know what we were in a similar vein of form with Fleetwood this time last year and we ended up beating Aston Villa 4-0. I think Harvey got a hat-trick and the momentum of the season flipped.

I said to you Saturday after the game that we’ve got to get used to winning football matches whichever way they come. Duffo (Michael Duff) is a pal of mine and obviously they beat us in the League Cup.

Harvey Saunders in action against Cheltenham (Andy Watts/JMP)

I didn’t enjoy that, I thought we were abject that night and we didn’t have many shots. But tonight I felt the lads really showed the attacking endeavour that we want to show and it has been often enough.

The challenge for us now is to turn that in more consistently, certainly in the league.

Finally Anssi Jaakkola, is his Achilles still playing up a little bit or is he going to be okay for Saturday?

He just has a flare up every now and again. Obviously we’ve got to protect him, it isn’t major but he will need a couple of weeks to settle that otherwise he’s going to miss a longer period of time.

So, it’s frustrating because he actually said he felt the best he’d felt in years and then he just slipped in training. His studs slipped on the turf and he just felt a little tweak.

When we got it scanned everything was fine, so we’re just waiting for the inflammation to go down.

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You can imagine when you’d had a number of injuries in a similar spot, the mental side of that is something that probably plays in the back of Anssi’s mind. But we’ve got a fantastic physio in Stuart Leake and they’ll work him on a different kind of strength programme than than what he’s been on before.

We think that the prognosis long term will be a lot better for him and then hopefully that’ll settle him and get him on the pitch and in our team more consistently

When the window closes, I guess your attention can turn to maybe getting some people out on loan to non-league, can you give me some of the candidates? I’d guess Josh Barrett might be one as he’s not been in and around the first-team picture….

I think we’re at the point (with Josh Barrett) where they’re going to agree to a termination for Josh and he’s going to exit the building which is probably best for all parties.

It saves the club a bit of money and it allows Josh to get on with his career because he’s a talented boy no doubt about that, but he’s got a lot of work to do to salvage his career as a professional footballer.

He’s clearly got the talent for that, it’s just can he knuckle down and show the discipline and desire needed to play in the league.

Maybe a fresh start and dropping out of the professional game and coming back in via the non-league route or maybe he gets a chance in the football league and realises that this might be his last opportunity.

He’s not a bad kid, he’s just lost his way a little bit as footballers do from time to time. So he’ll probably leave us at some point in the next 24 hours and we wish him nothing but the best.

Are there any other names?

There’s a few candidates but we’re not absolutely sure who’s going to be first team candidates.

I want players out playing on a Saturday. I don’t think it’s good for younger players to be sitting in the stands watching. That’s ok if you’ve got a 23’s programme, there’s a lot of games in there which we don’t have because we don’t have a 23’s programme

So if our young players aren’t in the first team picture. I think it’s the right thing to do to send them out and further their development. And if that means they go and play a bit of men’s football and get a few of the bigger, physical teams in conference or even below that.

I think it’s a great grounding for them and it gives them a wealth of experience that will help them in their senior careers.

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