IN FOOTBALL as in life, perceptions can sometimes be misleading.
Many in the game may have been quick to deride the often outspoken views of Joey Barton over the years, but one of his opposite numbers in the dug-out this evening is certainly not one of them.
Guiseley co-managers Marcus Bignot and Russ O’Neill pit their wits against Fleetwood Town chief Barton tonight (8pm) – as FA Cup fever descends upon Nethermoor as the Lions aim to make it through to third-round weekend for the first time.
Standing in their way is Barton, who has shown promise during his debut season in the management and Bignot has been impressed – if not necessarily surprised – by how such a colourful and controversial figure in Barton has proved so adept and looked a ‘natural.’
Not that he will be wanting to witness that acumen this evening in front of the TV cameras on Guiseley’s big night.
On the Barton factor, Bignot said: “I played at QPR when Clint Hill, who is Joey’s assistant, was there. I finished my diploma in football management with Clint over the summer and know Clint really well.
“I have a lot of respect for what Joey has done in the game and have watched his managerial stint with interest because I do think he is one of those who is a student of the game and is intelligent behind the character that people try to portray.
“There is a person in there who is driven and one who I believe will do well in the game.
“Fleetwood are a good team and it will be a difficult challenge from a league and standard above what we played in the last round (Cambridge United).
“We know we will have to be at our very best and deliver technically and tactically and be right on it mentally too.”
I have a lot of respect for what Joey has done in the game and have watched his managerial stint with interest because I do think he is a student of the game.Marcus Bignot
It remains to be seen if Guiseley make it through in their own right to the last 64 in early January, but they have at least been afforded a place in the hat, with the draw being staged on BBC1 at 7.30pm, half an hour before kick-off.
Should Guiseley land an attractive tie, it should prelude the need for any late team-talk.
Firmly casting aside any talk that Guiseley will ‘enjoy the day’ whatever happens tonight, Bignot observed: “I would much rather play poorly and get through. We do not want to play well and not make it.
“Although we will be in the hat for the third draw because the draw will be made beforehand and it would be great if we could get a big tie and it would provide us all a great incentive.
“We will not be able to hide the fact who we have drawn in the next round and the players will know and if it is one of those plum draws, it can certainly act as an extra incentive.”
On his preferred opponents, Bignot said: “I am a traditionalist, so I look at the big six. It is Manchester United or Liverpool for me and if I had to favour one, it would be Liverpool away. I think we have made just short of two hundred grand from the run and if we can get a ‘cup final’ away from home against one of the big six, it would help us through quite a few years to come.”