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Chris Barker issued out his first instructions to his Aldershot Town team-mates as the club's new caretaker manager, urging them: 'Don't call me 'gaffer!'

The 34-year-old has taken over the reigns temporarily from boss Andy Scott, who was sacked on Wednesday morning following a run of nine defeats from their last ten matches.

Barker was the popular choice to help steer the Aldershot ship having earned the respect of players, directors and fans in a productive 18 months at the Electrical Services Stadium.

But as he walked in a dressing room full of players for the first time as manager before training on Thursday, the former Barnsley, Cardiff and Southend defender relayed a message to his inherited charges.

"Obviously I've been getting changed with the boys day-in, day-out for the past 18 months but when I walked in this morning I told them not to call me gaffer for the time being," he told Get Hampshire.

"Until anything is permanent I want to be called 'Barks' as normal and we'll go about our business as normal, going out on the training field together, all giving 100 per cent.

"How long this will go to go on for, I'm not sure, but I'm still a player and we'll work day-to-day, week-to-week, and see what crops up eventually."

Like that of his team-mates, Barker's thoughts are still with the departed Scott, who paid the price for a sudden dip in form, culminating in a 1-0 home defeat to Kidderminster on Tuesday night (January 20) which sparked demonstrations from the fans outside the club offices and dressing rooms.

"We feel like we've let him down really because Andy brought us all in," Barker added. "He's been fantastic to me for the last 18 months, giving me advice on and off the field and we all have to take responsibility. It's just not been good enough on the field.

"Now as a player and manager at the moment I've got to take responsibility of everything and it's my job now to turn this around as quick as possible with Matty and the coaching staff and we've got a full week to do it."

Just 24 hours after getting the call from chairman Shahid Azeem, Barker has been working his fingers to the bone, taking training alongside his assistant Matt Gray and attending board meetings to discuss possible transfer targets.

"It's been a long week," he went on. "Playing two games in four days and then being told of the situation. I've learnt a lot in that time and I'll probably be learning everyday.

"I had no hesitation to take the job really, I was delighted. It is a proud thing to be asked to do a job like that.

"Over the past three or four years, as I've got older, I've been doing my coaching badges. I don't really want to admit it is coming to the end for me as I love playing football still, but while I'll still be out there training as a normal player, I'll also have the other side of it to do and I can't wait to get going.

"It is quite good actually that we haven't got a game this weekend, it allows things to settle down for a couple of days before we concentrate on getting three points away at Altrincham next Saturday.

"There are bits and bobs that I've heard on the transfer front which we'll look at. Something may crop up, it may not, it's a bit too early to say.

"I just had to get through today really and let things settle down."

Chris Barker
 

Barker is in good company in the managerial hotseat with his elder brother Richie having already plied his trade at Bury, Crawley and Portsmouth before joining the management set-up at MK Dons.

But unsurprisingly, after 15 years in senior football, Richie is not the inspirational figure that Barker can draw on.  

"When I was a lifeguard, at 18, played in non-League, I got the opportunity to go to Barnsley in the Championship when Dave Bassett was the manager.

"I learned a lot off him, yes, he told me off me a few times but he taught me a lot on the field and gave me my first opportunity.

"I've had 10 different managers in 15 years so I'll take a bit off everyone and hopefully that will help me in the next few months."

So would he like the job on a full-time basis...?

"I've got to be stupid to say 'no' to be honest," he chuckled. "I'm near the end of my career and been taking my coaching badges so I'd be crackers to say 'no'.

"But it's not about me at the moment, it's about getting this club out of the situation it is, taking one step at a time, and as players, coaches, directors and fans sticking together to get us out of this sticky position.

"There are no targets as such but I know, and the directors know, what we need to do and that's to stay up, it's as simple as that. Hopefully we can do better that. We're not in major danger but we don't want to get dragged down into it.

"We've got 15 games left, eight at home and if we win a high percentage of home games and a couple away we're nice and safe, but I want to take this club as far as I can.

"I might make the odd mistake, but hopefully not many."