Bristol Rovers’ winning formula revealed as Joey Barton takes inspiration from Burnley and Man City

Bristol Rovers are one of the in-form teams in League One - and Joey Barton reveals why
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Joey Barton has revealed that Bristol Rovers' winning form has coincided with the recent team-bonding sessions. The Gas players have suffered just one defeat in their last ten League One matches, and are in the top-half of the table.

An FA Cup defeat to non-league Boreham Wood and a loss to promotion-chasing Derby County are the only blips on what has been a solid run of form from Rovers in the latest block of fixtures. They have secured wins over Peterborough United, who are contenders for promotion, whilst also securing positive results against Bolton Wanderers, Port Vale, as well as Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth Argyle.

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As a result of their good run of form, for each win that they have picked up, they have had an extra-day's off, tallying up to four in total. With three games in between Boxing Day and New Years Day, there will be no time to relax, and instead the players took up the opportunity to take days off in between their next fixture. After securing a 1-1 draw against Bolton, players were allowed to let their hair down with a four-day break in total. They headed off to Dublin with players in hilarious fancy dress and the results have been positive since that.

“For me, I have got an easy job because we’ve got a fantastic dressing room and a fantastic coaching culture,” admitted Barton. “The lads respect the two-way street of that. The most pleasing thing for me is because of the results profile the lads won an extra day off because of the ten day block and they ended up having three or four days on a Christmas doo about ten days ago which consolidates your personal relationship.

“As a manager you are always worried about if someone gets nicked or someone does something stupid or they have too much ale and it impacts it. Our lads have been superb, fantastic result and performance at the weekend and they backed that up Tuesday night. It says a lot about where our squad is at."

Team-bonding is not new to Rovers, and a day out at the races at Cheltenham in March earlier this year, helped the team gel. The players took a break from the training, and it proved beneficial as they secured a victory over Northampton Town, which helped them in their quest to promotion.

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At the almost half-way point of the season, Barton's men are currently well on course to achieve their target of survival, with a target of 52 points the first objective, with eight more wins required. The festive period will see three fixtures played in quick succession, and is likely to see players spend time away from their families during a period in which is a major sacrifice for most.

It is why there is an importance for there to be a strong culture amongst the Rovers squad, and it has been used as an opportunity for players to get away from the stress of professional football, and mingle with their teammates in a non-formal setting. Barton who played for the likes of Burnley, Manchester City and Newcastle United, hailed the exercise.

“I’ve been involved as a player and sometimes the Christmas party can be the making of a lot of people," Barton added. "You get to meet people away from the training ground and get to know them from a slightly different perspective. Sometimes they can make fantastic bonds and certainly improve your team culture.

“If you remember last year, our lads went to Cheltenham just before we played Northampton and that solidified the culture. Four or five of our lads just needed a couple of Guinness's with his teammates to remember what a top player he is.”

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