What next for Richie Barker?

Out in the cold. Richie Barker has left Portsmouth four months to the day after being sacked by Crawley Town. Below during his ill-fated 109-day stay at Pompey, and first signing for Reds
Out in the cold. Richie Barker has left Portsmouth four months to the day after being sacked by Crawley Town. Below during his ill-fated 109-day stay at Pompey, and first signing for Reds

An exciting 3-2 win over Gillingham earlier this season saw Crawley Town back up an excellent 2-0 defeat of Peterborough United and led to their then manager, Richie Barker, being showered with praise for this brand of slick, attacking football.

Sure Reds had conceded 14 goals in their first seven games but at the other end they had plundered 16, won three and drawn one of their opening six league games.

Richie Barker. Pompey v Cheltenham. League Two. Fratton Park. Saturday, March 8, 2014. Picture: Joe Pepler PPP-140903-115034002

Richie Barker. Pompey v Cheltenham. League Two. Fratton Park. Saturday, March 8, 2014. Picture: Joe Pepler PPP-140903-115034002

The “we’re gonna score more than you” philosophy was working and in former striker Barker the club appeared to have a young, modern coach who were on an upward trajectory together.

The season before he had guided the club to tenth in League One, the highest position in Crawley Town’s 120-year history.

That after only taking over seven days before the start of the 2012/13 season following Sean O’Driscoll’s departure, and despite the fact that he was the third choice as manager behind Dean Holdsworth and John Pemberton.

Along the way Reds claimed the notable scalp of Bolton in the Capital One Cup and beat Sheffield United 2-0 at Bramall Lane, leading to the sacking of Danny Wilson and Barker subsequently being linked to the Blades job for the first time.

Richie Barker the  Crawley Town Manager (Pic by Jon Rigby) ENGSUS00220120813152827

Richie Barker the Crawley Town Manager (Pic by Jon Rigby) ENGSUS00220120813152827

In guiding Reds to a finish just four points outside the play-offs and then starting the 2013/14 season so well, Barker had begun to change the negative feeling many fans had towards him for what they felt was criticism of his own players and, on occasion them as well.

Many supporters felt he was using their club simply as a stepping stone to bigger things.

Arguably part of that at least was proved true in his switch to south coast neighbours Portsmouth in December, which came about after he had refused to rule out interest in the job and was sacked the following day by Crawley after seven games without a win.

But rather then being a step forward in his career, his Pompey exit today (Thursday, March 27) by ‘mutual consent’ follows a disastrous 109-day stay at Fratton Park which has seen his stock dramatically fall, leaving the question: What next for Richie Barker?

There is no denying the magnitude of the task he took on at Portsmouth. Taking over with the club in 17th position in League 2, they were downwardly mobile when he arrived having lost five of a seven-game winless run.

His record is actually extremely similar to his predecessor’s final 20 games in charge, Guy Whittingham having won five games to Barker’s four, both lost eight, with Whittingham claiming 18 league points to Barker’s 15.

But as in the final months at Crawley a lack of goals was the final death knell, Pompey managing just 11 in those 20 games.

With the club perilously close to the relegation places and the very real threat of an exit from Football League hanging over them - coupled with some very vocal anger towards him from the Pompey fans - his exit, along with assistant Taff Williams, came as no surprise.

While many Portsmouth fans (and some Crawley fans for that matter) will be gleeful at his latest departure, there’s little doubt Barker himself will already be plotting his next move, such is his determination.

The work ethic of a man who began taking his coaching badges long before injury cut short his playing days, and even ran a pub team while working evenings at Sheffield United’s academy, cannot be questioned.

For the short-term he will put all his energies into finishing his Uefa Pro License which will complete his coaching badges.

Then looking forward, he is settled in Brighton so would favour a job he could commute to rather then uproot his young family.

But while there is little doubt Barker will be eager to get back into the hotseat as quickly as possible, most clubs have either twisted or stuck by now in terms of a change of manager with the season rapidly drawing to a close.

He enjoyed plenty of success as the head of Bury’s youth academy before progressing on to the manager’s job, so he may look for a similar role for the remainder of the current campaign.

While there is little doubt Barker’s reputation as a manager has fallen just as steeply as it once rose in recent months it would be foolish to write him off just yet.

Though with his options now limited he may well have to take a few steps backwards in order to get a once hugely promising career back on track.