McInnes: Pompey fans will relate to Barker

Pompey chairman Iain McInnes, right, welcomes new manager  Richie Barker to Fratton Park
Pompey chairman Iain McInnes, right, welcomes new manager Richie Barker to Fratton Park

Iain McInnes welcomed Richie Barker to Fratton Park and told fans: He epitomises a Pompey manager.

The 38-year-old yesterday signed a one-year rolling contract, with Steve Coppell also arriving as director of football.

Barker was the favoured candidate among the club’s seven-man board, with the Blues chairman personally putting him just ahead of Exeter’s Paul Tisdale on the short-list.

The new manager will today take training with his new squad for the very first time ahead of Saturday’s visit of Newport County to Fratton Park.

His recruitment has clearly excited the board, of which Mike Dyer, Ashley Brown, Mark Trapani and Mick Williams were present alongside McInnes for the new arrival’s Mountgomery Lounge unveiling.

And McInnes is convinced Barker displays the characteristics which will strike a chord with Pompey fans.

He said: ‘What probably singles Richie out is I think he epitomises a Pompey manager, I think he is somebody the fans will relate to on the touchline.

‘When he’s happy, he’s happy. When he’s angry, he’s angry. When he’s pleased with what’s going on on the pitch, he will let you know. And when he’s not happy, he will let you know.

‘The crowd here like to relate to a strong, maybe demonstrable manager.

‘They like to see people working with the players with a tracksuit on, they like people that are used to developing players within the football club.

‘He’s not going to be a manager who stands with his arms folded by the dug out all game, but what you will see with him is a measured approach.

‘Richie actually told me that “the most important space to a football manager on a touchline every match is the space between his ears”, which is quite a nice quote.

‘It was initially a tight call because there was one other very strong candidate (Tisdale) who had different qualities to Richie. But I think, probably in the end, we felt if a manager was going to fire things up Richie was the stronger personality.

‘One of the reasons he’s ended up leaving Crawley was that he took over a club where the owner prefers to buy and sell players as opposed to develop them.

‘When he arrived there were 29 players and Richie brought it down to 19. His commitment and rationale towards improving the squad he took over rather than continually chopping and changing certainly fits the bill for us.

‘Richie has had somebody watch us for the last four games for no other reason than he was always going to apply for the job.

‘If you add that young, enthusiastic, highly-coached, strong personality to the Steve Coppell factor, it ended up virtually being a no-brainer.’

It was not merely the personality of Barker which stood out for McInnes, but ambition he has displayed as well.

He added: ‘Richie said he felt he would be dealing with young people so decided to qualify as a teacher, in addition to his coaching badges, and also went off and did himself a programme on sports science as well.

‘There is a guy that has thought clearly he wants to be a manager and has had success. Okay, not in the Premier League or Championship, but certainly won a League Two title with Bury and at Crawley batted well above their average on the smallest budget in the division.’