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Barker expects boos at Bury
Richie Barker insists it is “just another game” as he braces himself for a wall of abuse on his first return to Bury since walking out on the club last summer.
A section of Bury supporters are still seething at the way Barker left Gigg Lane on the eve of the season to take over at Crawley.
Barker expects them to grab the opportunity to let him know their feelings when his former and current clubs clash today.
He claims he is not bothered what kind of reception he receives from the fans but has reminded them of what he achieved during his short spell in charge at Bury and the circumstances surrounding his departure.
The former Albion striker guided the Shakers to six consecutive victories after taking over as caretaker from Alan Knill in April 2011 to secure promotion from League Two, winning the manager of the month award in the process.
His success earned him the job on a permanent basis and Barker guided Bury to a comfortable mid-table finish in League One despite severe financial restrictions which required him to sell a number of the club’s best players.
Barker was prepared to lead Bury into the current season but says the opportunity to take over at a club closer to his family home in Brighton was impossible to turn down.
He said: “I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and the reception I get from the fans doesn’t really bother me to be honest. I am sure some people will want to have a go at me but I don’t expect it will be any worse than when I was manager there.
“I remember we were ninth in the table one week and were 1-0 up at half-time and we got booed off the pitch. That is when you are the lowest supported club in the division but they obviously expected us to be doing even better.
“I think a few supporters didn’t want me to get the job on a permanent basis in the first place. They didn’t think I did a great deal to get them promoted and like a lot of football fans wanted a big name to take over the following season.
“But I never took any credit for winning promotion and in every interview I made it clear I was only holding the fort while they found the next manager. I was supposed to be leaving at the end of the season anyway but then a few things happened in the summer and they asked me to stay.
“It amazes me. I got abuse when I was there because people didn’t think I was good enough and then when I leave the same people give me abuse for joining another club even though they didn’t want me there in the first place.
“With management loyalty only ever seems to work one way. If you do really well and are offered another job as a result then the fans expect you to stay but if a couple of months down the line they will be calling for your head if results aren’t good.
“Most people are aware that I made the decision for the good of my family. I was quite prepared to continue doing what I was doing but when your family is 275 miles away and someone offers you an opportunity to work closer to home it would be silly not to jump at it.
“I took Bury to their highest league position for 14 years and did it while selling four of their best players because that is what we needed to do to pay the bills. I also helped the club improve its training ground and brought some younger players through the ranks but people don’t want to remember that.”