Bristol Rovers have the chance to “build a new era” this summer with a reshuffle of coaching and support staff as The Quarters training ground opens fully, Joey Barton believes.
Rovers have one more fixture to fulfil before their season of woe and relegation comes to a merciful end at Bloomfield Road on Sunday, and the manager believes the summer gives the club a chance to reset.
Barton has previously discussed the structural review he has commissioned, and at his pre-match press conference on Friday he said Rovers’ playing operation is “not effective or efficient”.
With Rovers’ playing squad set for an overhaul in the coming weeks, Bristol Live asked Barton if there will be changes to his coaching and support staff, too. “For sure,” he replied confidently, and with the first phase of the The Quarters training ground due to be completed this summer the 38-year-old says the club has a chance to improve itself from top to bottom.
“There’s lots of things that you’ve inherited that you’ve had to go with because you can’t really change things when you’re going Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday,” Barton said.
“It was relentless when we first came in and you have to be careful not to meddle with it and mess with it even though you know looking at it that it’s not effective and it’s not efficient.
“We knew there would be a settling in process and you need to allow people time to showcase what they can do, their strengths and weaknesses. After 12-14-week period we’re able to evaluate that having worked with people.
“Obviously we have a natural option to change because we’re moving into a training ground and I think that is an opportunity to draw a line under what has been a chaotic year for the world and certainly a chaotic year for the football club.
“I think you have an opportunity to build a new era, a new phase of Rovers out of the demotion of divisions and finally getting a training ground that is owned by the club and a place where Bristol Rovers 2.0 can come out of and start to the quarters and Gasheads proud.”
Rovers have been training at their new Almondsbury base since the Autumn, but they have needed to use facilities at the nearby Gloucestershire Football Association for meetings. With COVID restrictions set to ease over the summer, the opening of the Pirates’ new clubhouse at The Quarters is set to be well-timed, giving the club access to a higher standard of facilities than it has had before.
CEO Martyn Starnes spoke of plans to expand the clubhouse in a club interview published on Thursday.
Barton says he has been heartened by his encounters with supporters, including a conversation he had with Gasheads outside the Mem before Saturday’s defeat to Crewe, and it has emboldened his confidence in the club’s potential.
“The great thing is you see the season ticket sales going well and the optimism from the fans,” he said.
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“If this is what they’re like in a bad moment and a period where the club’s really struggling then I can’t wait to be involved with them when it’s on the up and going well.
“They’ve been superb. I went and met a group of them and had a chat with them and they could have handled it in a different way but they were absolutely outstanding with me and I think they understand what we’re trying to do and how we’re going to do it.
“A few of them could even have a laugh about it, which was nice, and as I say in the midst of a chaotic, disastrous season, to see their passion and their never-say-die spirit for their football club gives me enormous confidence and belief in what we’re going to build here.”