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Barker: I've taken a massive step up joining Portsmouth
Former manager Richie Barker has spoken for the first time of his disappointment at being sacked by Crawley Town.
Barker was confirmed as Portsmouth’s new boss yesterday, just 12 days after his 17 month reign at the Checkatrade.com Stadium was brought to an abrupt end.
The former Albion midfielder had guided Crawley to tenth place in League One in his first season in charge and despite a slump in form Reds were still 12th when he was surprisingly axed.
Barker said: “The sacking probably came as a surprise from the outside looking in as we were four games unbeaten, in the top half and through to the second round of the FA Cup.
“I thought keeping Crawley Town in the top half of League One and within touching distance of the play-offs with 19 players was quite a big achievement.
“I don’t think it is for me to say whether it was unfair but without that I probably wouldn’t have been given this opportunity.
“It is behind me. I’ve moved on and I’ve been given a fantastic opportunity here. It’ll be a point to prove if I can get this football club where it needs to be.”
Barker has dropped a division to take over at Fratton Park but insists Pompey have far greater potential than Crawley or his previous club Bury.
He added: “Obviously I’ve dropped to League Two but in terms of the size of the club I haven’t dropped anywhere. I’ve gone up massively.
“Keeping Crawley Town and Bury in League One was difficult. This one you look at and think ‘it can go a long way’.”
Barker has been joined at Portsmouth by former Crawley director of football Steve Coppell.
Coppell quit Reds in protest at Barker’s dismissal and will link up with the former Crawley boss in a similar role at Fratton Park.
Despite the strong Crawley link, Barker insists he will not be returning to his former club to raid their best players when the transfer window opens in January.
Barker is a big admirer of the likes of Joe Walsh, Billy Clarke, Mat Sadler and Nicky Adams – who are all out of contract at Crawley at the end of the season – but wants time to assess his current squad at Pompey before making wholesale changes.
He added: “These players here now deserve the opportunity to stay here and do the right things and if they do they’ll get the opportunity to stay here.”
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