Joey Barton is a man never too far from the headlines. No matter where he goes and what he does, controversy and publicity seems to follow in tandem.
A large amount of these incidents have been recalled in the player’s new book – No Nonsense. As the title would suggest, Barton doesn’t leave many stones unturned and sheds much light on his 14-year career in the game.
One such revelation has proven a bizarre incident where the 34-year-old was tricked into believing he was on the verge of a transfer to Manchester United. It appears the Rangers midfielder was guilty as far as being gullible goes.
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In the summer of 2011, Barton’s four-year spell at Newcastle United was at an end. He was within touching distance of making a switch to newly promoted Queens Park Rangers on a free transfer.
However, as the book recounts, Barton received a phone call on his way to QPR’s training ground alongside his agent Willie McKay.
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The man he thought was calling? Sir Alex Ferguson. The Rangers man goes onto explain what ‘Ferguson’ said: "I've seen what you're up to on Sky,"
"Don't go doing anything silly now. Why don't you come here and we'll have a conversation?"
Having discussed what Barton’s role would be at Old Trafford, he was persuaded to turn his car around.
The 34-year-old recounts his reaction: "Hallelujah! Finally, a big club, and a great manager, had come to their senses. I would give Manchester United's midfield a bit of bite, an injection of urgency. 'What are you waiting for?' I asked McKay. 'Turn the bloody car round.'"
Of course though, this was a trick. Poor Barton had been fooled into believing that reigning champions Manchester United were bidding for him and wrestling him away from Loftus Road.
It was at this point that McKay burst out laughing and explained that he had a friend with a superb impression of Ferguson. To this, Barton simply writes: "There would be no curtain call at Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams.
"My destination was a run-down former students' sports ground on the Heathrow flight path."
It seems rather incredible that Barton would fall for this, but maybe it was just an incredible impression. After all, it would have been the craziest idea of a replacement for the retiring of Paul Scholes, the first time over at least.
Given Barton’s status in the footballing community, it’s hard to imagine that many will be handing out their sympathies. Unfortunately the midfielder will have to settle for his solitary England and crack on in Scottish football.
Do you think Joey Barton is still Premier League quality? Have YOUR say in the comment box below
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