Richie Barker: Pompey manager hopeful of turnaround

By Nabil HassanBBC Sport
Richie Barker

New Portsmouth manager Richie Barker says he is confident he can turn things around at the troubled League Two club.

Pompey are 17th in the table, having suffered two successive relegations.

They sacked Guy Whittingham after a string of poor results but Barker says he can help rebuild the club along with director of football Steve Coppell.

"There is no glass ceiling and if this place gets rolling it can keep going," Barker told BBC Sport. "It's how far I can take it."

He added: "Five, six years ago the club was playing in cup finals and playing in the Premier League. It will be tough to get back to that level but that's what everyone's aspiration should be.

"How long that will take I don't know, but we need to take it in steps and initially our aim has got to be to get out of League Two."

Barker is reunited at Pompey with chief executive Mark Catlin - they worked together at Bury - and Catlin says Barker's vision and strength of character made him the ideal choice.

"He is ambitious, enthusiastic and hard-working and he commands the respect of everyone around him, in and out of the dressing room," Catlin told BBC Sport.

"He is a great manager for this club and one who will help us rebuild it."

Despite Barker only being 38, Catlin says he already has a fearsome reputation and maturity as a manager beyond his years.

"If anyone thinks they can cross him in that changing room they will have a rude awakening," he said. "I've seen him go and it's a frightening sight."

Chairman Iain McInnes revealed the board had initially been split five-to-two on appointing Barker but eventually it was a unanimous decision that the club needed a "fresh face with new ideas".

Iain McInnes

McInnes added: "We have a football club to build and we have someone who can take responsibility for the football side of things and deal with it.

"His demeanour commands loyalty from his footballers. I see him having the bottle to drag us up by the bootstraps and get us out of trouble."

McInnes also feels Barker will be able to deal with the huge expectation at the supporter-owned club, which has the largest fan-base in the division.

And Barker himself admitted it was the challenge of working in the intense environment of Fratton Park that attracted him to Pompey.

He said: "It's a unique club in that it is owned by the supporters - that creates a bond between players, staff and fans.

"We need to utilise that wherever possible, and yes there is an expectation, but at the moment I'd like to think the only way is up and we can manage those expectations along the line."