Sean Dyche was the first person Joey Barton called after he received a job offer from Fleetwood Town – and now the Burnley boss will be aiming to ensure Barton’s first pre-season friendly at Highbury does not go to plan.
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Town played no friendlies at home ahead of Barton’s first season in management due to an Alfie Boe concert at the stadium.
But this summer there will be two as the Premier League Clarets travel to the Fylde coast on Tuesday, July 23 (7.45pm kick-off) and Championship club Preston North End follow on Saturday 27 (3pm) for Town’s final friendly before the League One campaign kicks off on August 3.
Dyche managed Barton twice at Burnley, from 2015-16 and again in 2017. Barton would end his playing days at Turf Moor, when he was banned from football for breaching FA betting regulations. He took charge at Town last June, having completed his ban.
Speaking about his route into management, Barton said: “When I was given the ban my plan was to stay busy, stay active and find a purpose.
“That purpose for me was the media. I loved working for talkSPORT.
“I wanted to get back into football on this side of the fence, the getting-the-hands-dirty side, the daily grind, whether that was as a player or a coach.
“At the time I wanted to go back and play. I felt I had unfinished business. I wanted to show the FA that at 35 I could navigate the ban and say, ‘I am going to come back from this’.
“I thought it would be a huge test of my psychological and physical resolve.
“Halfway through that journey, Andy (Pilley, Fleetwood chairman) phoned me and said, ‘Would you be interested in a coaching job at Fleetwood?’
“Initially I thought, ‘No, I want to go back to Burnley’, which was always the plan – to do pre-season with them and see if I could get back in their side.
“Sean Dyche was the first person I spoke to about it. I was thinking he’d say, ‘Come back and be part of Burnley’, just because of the rapport we had together.
“But he said, ‘You have to go and do that. You are going to be really good at that. It is a great opportunity for you’.
“I’d kind of reached that decision on my own, but then to have someone you have an enormous amount of respect for give you that kind of pat on the back and confidence-boost, I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ve got to do this’.”
And Barton says he has taken inspiration from Dyche’s model at Burnley.
He added: “If you have spent time in any good environment, you want to replicate that.
“I always saw myself as a coach and a manager on the pitch. At Burnley, me and the manager were so close. We had a kind of ‘leaders and generals’ group who were brought into discussions.
“I was always part of that and felt that respect was born both ways. I was asked my opinion on lots of things and the Burnley journey is a model of excellence.
“When Burnley finished seventh (in 2017-18) with their budget in the ultra-competitive world of Premier League football, for me he was the manager of the year. It was a phenomenal achievement.
“It would be foolish of me not to bring the good things from that environment, which there were many of, but there are also things I thought I would do slightly differently.
“Burnley is an exceptional model and was a model for a 46-game season when we won the Championship. That model would be useful in a 46-game season in League One.
“If you know what ‘good’ looks like and feels like, you would be foolish not to use it.”