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CLOCK TICKING: Barton knows the pressure is on at Rovers

CLOCK TICKING: Barton knows the pressure is on at Rovers

PA Steven Paston

Joey Barton admitted the “clock is ticking” on his attempts to revive ailing Bristol Rovers after hearing chants of “what a load of rubbish” at the final whistle of their 3-1 defeat to Leyton Orient.

First-half headers from Harry Smith and Aaron Drinan, with a sweet Theo Archibald volley sandwiched in between, had Orient in cruise control by the break at the Memorial Stadium.

Although Brett Pitman replied with a stoppage-time penalty after a foul on Harvey Saunders, Rovers fans were in scathing mood by full-time after their side slipped to third bottom in League Two.

Barton, who rebuilt the squad during the summer, sympathised, saying: “They could have really turned on the players earlier. I have played for supporters who would have done so.

“I understand their frustration. Sometimes as a manager you think you are Jesus Christ and can turn water into wine, but football has a way of humbling you.

“I thought I could do it here. But it has proved a bigger job than I ever imagined and if I left the club tomorrow, I would consider myself a failure.

“That’s something I am desperate to avoid. But I am not an imbecile and I know the clock is ticking, whether I have 10 or 15 more games to get it right, or less.

“If the owner decided tomorrow that Joey Barton is not the right man to take Bristol Rovers forward, I would be devastated.

“I think he understands the hard work that is going in every day to turn results around, but I also know that in football time is limited for all managers.”

Barton felt there was little between his strugglers and second-placed Orient, whose assistant manager Joe Gallen admitted: “It seemed that everything we hit in the first half found the back of their net.

“Coming to Bristol Rovers is always tough because they have a great crowd, who get behind them and make it difficult for the opposition.

“They are very passionate and we knew we would have to play well. The first goal is always massive in football and it has gone our way on this occasion.

“The players were able to execute a move we had practised and Harry Smith has aimed his header downwards, which often means it ends up on target.

“The home supporters were very good to their team, choosing to turn on the referee instead, and we have given him the chance to make a penalty decision against us late on.

“I didn’t think it was a foul and it was disappointing not to keep a clean sheet. But overall, we are hugely encouraged by the start we have made.

“There will be days when things don’t go our way and we have to be able to handle them, but so far the players deserve a lot of credit.”

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