The simmering tensions between Richie Barker and Steve Evans threatened to boil over this week with both managers accusing the other of disrespect.
Rotherham boss Evans took a swipe at Barker immediately after his side’s 2-1 win over Crawley on Saturday, accusing him of being disrespectful for being reported before the game as saying the Millers’ budget made them a top six club (story page 61).
But responding to the Scot’s accusations, Barker labelled Evans ‘embarrassed’ about the finances he had available and said he had shown disrespect in the past for openly courting one of his players.
Unease between the pair began last season when Evans was quoted in another Crawley newspaper as saying he would “definitely be interested” in signing Reds midfielder Sergio Torres, comments Barker has not forgotten.
“He thought I was being disrespectful talking about his budget. I thought he was disrespectful talking about one of my players last year when he put an article in the paper about (wanting) one of my players. You should never talk about other people’s players. Never mind budgets.”
And he continued: “I don’t know why some managers are embarrassed to admit they have big budgets and I’m not sure why. I suppose managers with money to spend have their own reasons for playing it down.
“We go to Wolves this Friday and I’m sure if I said after the game it’s tough to compete with big clubs like Wolves, I won’t have (manager) Kenny Jackett after me saying I’m disrespectful. Kenny’s an experienced manager and I’m sure he’d be a lot more sensible about it then Steve has been.”
Reds boss Barker has described the trip to Molineux in two days - which will be live on Sky - as one of the biggest games in Crawley’s history. As Barker pointed out in his column (page 61), nearly two years ago to the day Wolves had beaten Fulham in the Premier League while on the same day Reds were playing Torquay in League 2.
Every Crawley player will be desperate for the chance to shine under the TV cameras, though following more question marks over the team’s defending on Saturday Barker says a number of players are yet to do enough to guarantee a starting place.
“I think one or two haven’t (done enough), there’s still a few things that need to be decided, some of the players haven’t yet earned the right to be in the team week in week out.”
Having suffered successive relegations last season Wanderers are so far living up to their tag as one of the favourites for the League One title, recording back-to-back wins after their opening day draw.
Wolves have a host of top players, but a Reds defence which has leaked 11 goals in their first four games will have to be especially alert to the threat of Scotland striker Leigh Griffiths.
The match is live on Sky Sports 1, kick off 7.45pm.