Bristol Rovers coach Andy Mangan on working with Joey Barton and his own managerial aspirations

Andy Mangan has been studying for his UEFA Pro Licence and has praised the man he currently works under

<p>Andy Mangan has praised Joey Barton for how young he started his managerial career. (Image: Bristol Rovers)</p>

Andy Mangan has praised Joey Barton for how young he started his managerial career. (Image: Bristol Rovers)

Bristol Rovers first-team coach Andy Mangan says he hopes to become as brave of a football manager as his boss Joey Barton when he eventually becomes one.

Mangan, who for four years has worked under the Rovers chief, has been a long-term friend of the former Newcastle United midfielder and was given his first coaching opportunity by him.

As with most coaches, some have ambitions of one day becoming the head coach or manager at a football club.

Before joining up with his fellow scouser, Mangan laid bare his ambitions to his childhood friend that he would one day want to be his own man.

For now, though, he’s one of the trusted lieutenants that Barton can turn to for advice, both in the training ground and in the dugout.

He said: “At the moment, I’m young and I’m four years from retiring and I’m 36 in August. Joey knows already that I would love to be a first-team manager

“I would love that further down the track. Am I ready for that right now? You don’t know until it is thrust upon you.

“I’m learning every single day, I’ve got no thoughts about being a first-team manager at the moment.

“I’m loving being the first-team coach, I love the relationship I have with the players. I love creating and designing sessions to try and get the team better.

“If one day it does come and I get the opportunity then let’s hope I have the bravery and willingness to do it as Joey did at such a young age.

“Joe was 36 when he took his first role and has taken to it like a duck to water. He’s been very successful and we’re getting better.

“Let’s just focus on the end of the season, we’ve got a really important season to finish off and if we can get a promotion it would be excellent.”

A childhood friendship resulted in Andy Mangan getting a job at two of Joey Barton’s clubs. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Barton for most of his footballing career played at the top level of the professional game, playing for the likes of Rangers and Queens Park Rangers.

An academy product of Manchester City, he featured more than 100 times for the Citizens before their riches, Barton has had a different managerial upbringing.

His grounding came at Fleetwood, of whom he managed for three years, taking them to within two games of the Championship.

It was at Highbury Stadium that Mangan was handed his first coaching opportunity at the age of just 32-years-old, making him one of the youngest in the country.

“I’ve known Joey since I was eight-years-old. I had my career and he had his, which was far better than mine. We spoke about football all the time and our families are really close. When we were both playing, he respected what I was saying and it was enough to make me a first-team coach at the age of 32.

“I was the youngest in the country at the time and I didn’t take that lightly. I just thought to myself that Joe believes in me so I am going to prove to people I can do this job and I am still doing that now.

“We all put ideas forward, Joey is very inclusive like that and he always asks the floor for what they think first.

“I’m sure Joe knows what he wants to do but he puts it out there first and we’re a very inclusive staff.

“We respect everyone’s opinion. If Joe says something and it works brilliant, if I say something and it works, fantastic.

“The culture we have is as a team and that is why we did well at Fleetwood and we were unfortunate to lose our job.

“And that’s why he’s doing well at Bristol Rovers. There is hard work on the training ground, treating your fellow professionals with respect and love.

“It’s like a flower, if you water it, it keeps on growing and if you don’t then it won’t grow. What we try to do is build the lad’s confidence to get the best out of them.”

Mangan can often be seen at the Memorial Stadium before kick-off laying the cones down ahead of a match. He’s been pictured a few times with a whistle around his neck as he runs the players through their drills.

In some situations, the manager leaves all the training and the groundwork to their coaches, whilst they oversee other aspects of management.

Providing what the working day and a matchday look like, Mangan gives us a picture of what it’s like at Rovers.

He revealed: I’ll set and design the sessions up but Joe is the manager, he decides how we play and the tactics he wants to use in the team. Maybe I have to relay the message in the sessions but he is the manager.

“We’re really close friends, so everything he wants, he knows to fulfil what he wants. No one is looking over their shoulder.

“We’ve got Kevin Bond, who has been incredible, a good coach who has worked with the likes of Harry Redknapp, he’s football royalty.

“We’ve also got Tony Warner, I’ve never learnt so much about goalkeeping until the last year.”

For a coach with only three years of experience, he has already gone through a lot. There was play-off heartbreak with Fleetwood, before suffering relegation from League One with Rovers.

Those experiences though have in some ways bettered him because ultimately the long-term goal is to get promoted and build a successful project in Bristol.

Discussing his thoughts when he and the coaching staff joined in February 2021, he said: “When we came to Rovers, we didn’t realise how big the job was going to be in terms of the amount of staff and player turnover.

“Life has a way of kicking you in the teeth, the journey we’ve been on since taking Rovers has given us a massive amount of humble pie.

“But also a greater appreciation for the process because it hasn’t always gone well.

“Our chairman deserves massive credit, he has been such a great sounding board and what we have felt from him has been second to none.

“He’s the best Chairman in the Football League. The trust that they placed in us gives us the belief and confidence that we are doing the right thing.

“We’re just getting started, there is loads more growth in this team. It’s a really young side with an unbelievable culture.”