Joey Barton takes on his first competitive game in management on Saturday. The 35-year-old is in the home dugout as Fleetwood Town host AFC Wimbledon at Highbury Stadium.
Ahead of the rookie gaffer’s first fixture as Cod Army boss, we look at how it’s all shaping up for the club…
Ins and outs
There’s been plenty of change on the Fylde coast. A full 11 players have left the club permanently. Two have dropped down to Salford City – including former captain Nathan Pond. However, Fleetwood haven’t lost anyone they can’t live without.
On the flipside, there have been some potentially vital additions.
Midfielder Dean Marney has played over 350 games in the top two tiers of English football. He’s made the short journey from Premier League Burnley, on a two-year deal.
Powerful centre-back Craig Morgan also has plenty of pedigree. As well as 23 caps for Wales, he knows this division inside out – and won League One with Wigan Athletic in 2016.
Also in are the likes of pacy left-back Eddie Clarke (from Tranmere Rovers) and nippy Rangers midfielder Jason Holt – who arrives on a season-long loan.
There’s only so much you can read into pre-season results. But it’s so far, so good for Barton and co.
Town have won all of their five games ahead of the season proper. That included a resounding 4-0 win at wealthy National League side Salford City, and a 3-1 defeat of Morecambe at the Globe Arena.
Tougher tests are around the corner, but it’s promising stuff from Barton’s boys. Especially striker Conor McAleny, who has netted twice in pre-season, and looked very lively.
How the season starts
The new Fleetwood boss has avoided a baptism of fire. Three of their first four league opponents finished 16th or below last season – including Rochdale, who beat the drop by a single spot.
In the Carabao Cup, the Cod Army are off to face a poor Crewe Alexandra side in Cheshire.
The odds make it 10/1 we see Fleetwood promoted in 2018-19. Meanwhile, they’re 4/1 for a top-six finish – and a shade shorter at 7/2 to suffer relegation.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing