Fleetwood are equals with Sunderland despite gulf between clubs, says Joey Barton
Watch the full interview with Joey Barton on Soccer Saturday from 2pm on Sky Sports News.
Last Updated: 07/09/18 1:54pm
Fleetwood boss Joey Barton believes his side can consider themselves as equals to Sunderland ahead of their trip to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, despite the gulf in size between the two clubs.
Barton has impressed so far in his first managerial role, with Fleetwood still unbeaten on the road ahead of the Sky Bet League One clash, and he believes his players have nothing to fear.
"They've got a lot of players who have played in the Premier League and have a lot of quality in their team," Barton told Soccer Saturday. "Our lads have to be confident though because we're unbeaten on the road and we haven't conceded a goal.
"Sunderland are a massive club and it was only a few years ago I was playing against them in the Premier League, so to see them up against little old Fleetwood in League One is very strange. We don't go there as financial or historical equals, but on Saturday we're equals."
VOTE: EFL Goals of the Month
WATCH and VOTE for your Championship, League One and League Two Goals of the Month for August here
Barton is aware he might be on the receiving end at the Stadium of Light on Saturday having played for Newcastle for several years during his playing career, but he insists he will be fully focused on the task at hand.
The former midfielder also revealed he has the utmost respect for Sunderland, their fans and boss Jack Ross.
"It will obviously be a sideshow for a part of it, but once the game kicks off and the lads cross the white line it serves no purpose for us to waste any energy on that," said Barton. "It won't affect us, we're going there to win the game.
"I respect Jack Ross and the job he's done there so far. He's turned round a club that has habitually lost for the last few years and had back-to-back relegations. In the last few years they've lost more games than they've won and it's not easy to turn that round.
"Now they're expected to win every week, which isn't easy if you're used to getting beaten every week, and that carries a different pressure. I respect the club and any club that can get 30,000 in a League One stadium, there aren't many I can think of that would do that so absolute credit to the Sunderland fans for that.
"It's dead easy to fill your stadium when you're winning every week and watching superstars like Sergio Aguero and Pep Guardiola, but it's not so easy when you're watching Joey Barton's team come to town!"
Barton's Fleetwood find themselves three points behind Sunderland heading into the weekend, but believes he has the team at his disposal to claim all three points to move level in the table.
"They've got a lot of baggage from their playing days and they've got players who are AWOL that are probably on more money than our entire playing staff," said Barton.
"There is a gulf in terms of fanbase, size and budget, but if you look at the starting XIs I think if anything we've got a better team."
Play Super 6
Jeff has given away over £1.5m over the last fortnight! Enter your predictions for free here.