Barker backed to have drive to succeed with Pompey

Richie Barker. Picture: Joe Pepler
Richie Barker. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Richie Barker possesses the drive and determination to be a Pompey success.

That is the verdict of Steve Coppell, who is convinced the Blues boss has the right qualities to retain the club’s Football League status and lead it to greater heights.

The director of football is working at his second club alongside Barker, having previously served with him at Crawley.

During that period he has closely observed the talents of the 38-year-old – and remains impressed.

There was criticism aimed at Barker during last weekend’s 3-1 loss at Fleetwood which has left Pompey four points above the relegation zone with nine matches remaining.

On Saturday they have a massive Fratton Park fixture against York to contend with, where a win is essential.

But Coppell believes the former Bury manager has the credentials to triumph in his task.

He said: ‘Richie’s single-minded, ambitious and has a vision for the way he would like his teams to play, although obviously at the moment it is not matching that.

‘He is a hungry young manager but it is always a steep learning curve.

‘I know from my own experiences as manager, it took me five years to get promotion at Crystal Palace. Now I would never have got that time.

‘I say this in relation to Manchester United at the moment, the first three years Fergie had their league form was terrible. At the end of the third year they beat my Crystal Palace team at Wembley in the FA Cup final to set them on the path to magnificent, glory years.

‘The biggest thing a manager can have is drive, more than anything. I think Richie has got a lot of drive.

‘It’s a sticky situation and he is a young manager and took some stick on Saturday.

‘He will feel it, don’t get me wrong, but he’s got a thick skin and it will make him more determined to make his mark in this club’s success significant.

‘I am a Lancastrian through-and-through and he is from Yorkshire, we shouldn’t mix.

‘But I can appreciate his honesty and he knows this has been a project which has not gone the way he wanted.

‘But the drive and determination to redirect it is higher than ever for him.’

Coppell also believes Barker has yet to instill his natural style of football.

He added: ‘I didn’t see his football at Bury but at Crawley we tried to play as much as possible.

‘We had a very tight and committed squad with the emphasis on playing out from the back, trying to play through midfield to the forwards, get the ball out wide and put in crosses.

‘It doesn’t compare to the football at Crawley because it’s a struggle.

‘When things are going well then football is easy.

‘Whereas at the moment we have to acknowledge it’s a struggle.’