Barton has been out of the game since July after being banned for gambling offences, however he’s been speaking to the Chronicle about the infamous Mike Ashley and NUFC’s current predicament.
He begins by revealing how Ashley intervened when former boss Steve McClaren made attempts to sign him two years ago, explaining how he and the NUFC owner share a mutual dislike for each other:
“Steve McClaren wanted me to go back. That was the year I joined Burnley – he asked me to come back but Mike Ashley said ‘you can have anybody but him!’”
“It was good to know I made that an impression on him (Ashley) because the feeling is definitely mutual.”
Remember how Ashley insisted that he has no say on players who come into the club? Yeah right!
Joey then explained how Ashley is never going to change his ways, stating how we supporters deserve more and a new regime to get the club back to where it belongs:
“The club will not be the club it could be while they’ve got the owner they’ve got. He’s not going to change,”
“It’s sad but that’s his way of doing things and I feel sorry for the supporters because they do deserve more. It’s a huge football club and it should be in the Premier League – it should never be out of it or even in a position where they’re thinking it might not be.
“It’s a sad predicament of mismanagement. They spent loads of money on players in the Championship and then get up to the Premier League and spend no money. I just don’t get it. I don’t get what he wants to do.
“Does he want to keep yo-yoing between the two divisions? Is that the plan? He owns the football club but it needs a change of regime.”
Finally, Barton discusses the clubs potential under Rafa Benitez, but fears that Ashley’s ‘nonsense’ could force him to leave – despite it being the ‘perfect club’ for Benitez and one that could be ‘so much bigger that what it is now’:
“They have a good manager there who, if you give him a bit of money, he tends to do well. He’s a wily character and he knows how to build successful football clubs. But he keeps getting the Ashley nonsense on transfers so the question has to be whether he will stay there or not,”
“It’s a perfect club for someone like Rafa. It could grow to be something so much bigger than what it is now.”
Barton is no saint and the sort of bloke you love to hate if he’s in the opposing side, however he is someone who did ‘get it’ at NUFC and one of few who challenged Mike Ashley during his time at the club.
Interesting that McClaren wanted him back on Tyneside just a few years ago, although I’m not too sure how that would’ve went down with some sections of NUFC fans! Then again, we lacked heart during that relegation season and Joey would’ve given us exactly that..