Joey Barton sends message to Oxford United amid pressure on Karl Robinson

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The Gas manager hopes Oxford United can stick with his long-tim friend Karl Robinson

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton says he hopes Oxford United can stick with Karl Robinson amidst a bad run of form that has put him under pressure.

The Gas inflicted a 3-0 defeat on to Robinson's side yesterday, as they ended their seven-week wait for a win in convincing fashion. After weathering several early chances, Scott Sinclair scored a penalty which was followed up six minutes later by Aaron Collins, who netted his 15th league goal of the season. Academy graduate Luca Hoole put the cherry on the cake as his header from Antony Evans' delivery ensured an emphatic victory, much to the relief of Barton.

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Hoole's goal prompted chants from a section of the home supporters against their own manager, as well as loud audible boos at the full-time whistle. Oxford's losing run was extended to eight matches, with no win since January 21, and going in to the match they had the exact same record of six defeats in seven games, with a draw against former club MK Dons their only positive result.

Oxford, who had just missed out on the play-offs last season, are only seven points off of the relegation zone and are 21-points off of sixth-placed Derby County. Despite the unlikeliness of them reaching the top six this time around, Robinson believes he can get the club out of the division, albeit it might not be this season.

"I was torn a little bit today because we are both coming in with poor form," said Barton. You don’t ever want to see that and I think the job Karl has done it will stand the test of time. He has been absolutely outstanding, he has constantly produced play-off chasing groups in the midst of that they have sold a lot of talent.

"It’s tough at these levels if you keep losing your best players to replace them. I think he’s done a wonderful job and again they’re having a bit of adversity. I’ve seen it happen with Karl’s teams before and then they pick up and go on an incredible run."

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Earlier this week, Oxford's CEO instructed Robinson that results must improve for the under-achieving side if he is to keep his job and that finances are not holding the club back from parting ways with him. Robinson in the aftermath of the defeat to Rovers admitted his future is constantly being reviewed, and he is fully aware of how his side are under performing.

Barton and Robinson have known each other since growing up together as children. The U's boss' winless run against his long-time friend continued to seven matches, and despite the need for his own team to win, the Rovers boss sympathised with them, and urged Oxford to think before making a decision around his future.

He said: "I'm just hoping they give him time because that is what every manager needs. It’s not Karl’s fault that players at the moment aren’t firing on all cylinders. He hasn’t become a bad manager in the last six months. He’s been at this for a long long time and had a lot of success at MK and here.

"The grass isn’t always greener, I’m hoping they can pick up next week and get winning for him and hopefully he can turn this club around again and show that upwards trajectory and play-off chasing team we’ve known Oxford to be."

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