Joey Barton was named as Fleetwood Town’s new manager earlier this week, to the surprise of just about everybody.
The 35-year-old will take over from John Sheridan on June 1, when his 13-month ban from all football-related activities ends.
Barton was hit with an 18-month suspension in April 2017 - reduced by five months on appeal - after he was found to have placed 1,260 bets on matches over 10 years.
Despite that, Barton has still managed to land the manager’s job at Fleetwood, who currently occupy 14th place in the League One table.
Former Liverpool and Wales forward Craig Bellamy is surprised by Fleetwood’s decision to hire the controversial ex-Manchester City midfielder and he’s not the only one.
Bellamy, who was speaking on Sky Sports’ ’The Debate’ on Wednesday night, questioned how Barton had landed this job despite his complete lack of coaching experience.
Although Barton has done his coaching badges, he has yet to gain any on-the-job experience. Unlike Bellamy, he hasn’t even coached youth players before.
Time for the Rooney Rule?
Jonathan Liew, the Independent’s excellent sports writer, believes Barton’s appointment proves the Rooney Rule is required in English football.
“Joey Barton, a convicted criminal with no coaching experience, walks into a managerial job with no formal recruitment process, because he's friends with the owner,” he tweeted.
“A lot of people don't understand the point of the Rooney Rule. This is exactly what it's for.”
The Rooney Rule, for those unaware, is a policy in the NFL that requires league teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.
Collymore drops truth bomb on Barton's appointment
This prompted a reply from ex-Premier League striker Stan Collymore, who tweeted what most pundits are presumably thinking right now but are perhaps not outspoken enough to come out and say it themselves.
“Noble sentiment, Jonathan, but football is no different to newspapers, television and radio,” he replied. “Nepotism, old boys club, old pals act, different names for the same old shit.”
Collymore clearly feels that Barton wouldn’t have been appointed if he wasn’t friends with Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley - and the truth is, he’s probably right.
It's hard to believe that another Football League club would have taken a chance on Barton this year.
Fleetwood's chairman explains why he hired Barton
Pilley has explained his reasons for hiring Barton in an interview with The Sun and admitted he “enjoys his company”.
Pilley, who met Barton in 2012 when he attempted to sign the midfielder on loan, told SunSport: “I really enjoy his company. He’s not the guy a lot of people believe him to be. He’s made mistakes in the past but so has everybody.
“He’s box office. If we want to increase the profile of the football club he’ll certainly do that.
“He’s very intelligent, he’s an excellent communicator, has huge energy levels and is very driven. He has all the attributes to be a top coach.
“He’s going to be raw, I understand that. There’s an responsibility on me and the other people at the football club to assist him. But I think he can take us right to the top of League One.
“He’s been managing in dressing rooms for years. He’s a leader. I think he can go on to blossom into one of the top coaches in the UK, and who knows, even Europe.”
Is he right - or has his judgement been hindered by the fact he considers Barton a friend?
Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
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