Warner to join Bristol Rovers following backroom cull by Barton

Warner had been goalkeeper coach at Accrington for two seasons

Warner had been goalkeeper coach at Accrington for two seasons

TONY WARNER is set to join Bristol Rovers as goalkeeper coach as the club rebuild their backroom staff following a cull by manager Joey Barton.

The former Millwall keeper left League One Accrington Stanley following their final game of the season against Portsmouth on Sunday after two years as a coach there. At Rovers, he will replace David Coles, the former England Under-18s, Portsmouth, Southampton and West Ham goalkeeper coach.

Coles had been with Rovers since September 2020 and was informed of his sacking after their last game of the 2020/21 campaign, a 1-0 defeat at Blackpool on Sunday.

Four other staff have also departed: first-team coach Jack Mesure, Under-23s coach Lee Mansell, Head of Medical Miles Warren and Head of Sports Science Alun Andrews.

CEO Martyn Starnes said: “These changes have been made as we look to accelerate plans for next season.”

Tony Parks, the former Aston Villa, Norwich and Tottenham goalkeeper coach who is now Academy Goalkeeper Scout for Manchester United, expressed his amazement at Coles’ sacking.

Writing on LinkedIn, the former West Ham keeper said: “I have to say I am flabbergasted to hear that Bristol Rovers have relieved goalkeeping coach David Coles of his role at the club.

“Colesy is one of the finest GK coaches in the country, with 30 years’ experience and a CV to match. This is where I have to make the distinction between GK coach and GK trainer.

“Colesy is the in the first group. He nurtures and develops, helping young goalkeepers find the pathway from youth to first-team football at all levels of the game. From Asmir Begovic to his latest protege Jed Ward, making his debut (for Bristol Rovers at the age of 17) on Saturday.

“In my opinion, the goalkeeping trainer is only interested in session design and how it looks to others who watch the session, with little or no coaching taking place. If anyone out there is looking for a top coach, look no further than Colesy.”


Barton took over as Bristol Rovers manager on February 22nd and his short tenure has been marked by acrimony and controversy.

He accused predecessors Ben Garner and Paul Tisdale of “negligence” in the way they had carried out their duties and said of his players this week: “There’s lads there who wouldn’t get in our school football team, never mind play professional football.”

Tisdale has privately threatened legal action against Barton over his comments about him.

When the former QPR, Newcastle and Burnley midfielder arrived at the club, they were two points off the League One relegation zone in 20th, having won only once in 12 games.

In his 18 games in charge, Barton's record reads won three, drawn two and lost 13, and Rovers finished bottom of the table, having been relegated with two games to go.

Barton, who is due to face trial next month for assault, following an altercation with former Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel in April 2019, again criticised Garner and Director of Football Tommy Widdrington this week, although he did acknowledge that "the buck stops with me" from now on.

“Last year, the pre-season wasn’t done at the correct intensity, so that will be laid at Ben Garner’s door and it will be tough for him to argue that," he said.

“Whoever put the team together and recruited the personnel, I think the buck stops with you as the manager and that will rightly be laid at his door. I don’t think he can have an argument with that. He put this group together, I gather. Him and Tommy Widdrington, and they’re just miles off the level as the league table shows.

“I’m forward now. Anything from this moment on is me, so anyone who comes in or leaves the building is my responsibility. The buck will stop with me, which is fantastic.

“The owner is a superb guy, he wants the best for the football team, he really, really does, and he’s been let down by people he has put in positions of influence.

“Any of them want to gripe or send their lawyers to send me a letter as they did last time when I outed them, no problem. I’ll show you all the footage if you want, I will release all their training data, their training footage and you’ll see it and say, ‘God.’

“They should be struck off, I told you that at the time and I will tell it to their face when I see them.”

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