Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton emerges as early bookies contender for Stoke job

The immediate fall-out from Stoke City’s sacking of Michael O’Neill has seen Joey Barton spoken about as a potential contender
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Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton has emerged as a potential contender for the recently vacant Stoke City managerial role.

The Potters are on the search for a new boss after parting company with Michael O’Neill on Thursday morning following a slow start to the campaign for one of the early season favourites.

Stoke are 21st in the Championship table having claimed just one win in their opening five league matches, whilst they were knocked out by League One outfit Morecambe in the Carabao Cup.

Former Bristol City head coach Dean Holden has been placed in interim charge as they seek a permanent successor to the former Northern Ireland manager.

Amongst the early contenders however is Barton, whose stock is high after leading the Gas to a dramatic promotion from League Two last season. The 39-year-old was given starting odds of 10/1 by BetVictor, which was the same as caretaker boss Holden and Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth, placing him in the top five.

His odds quickly then drifted with other candidates considered, dropping him to 16/1, alongside Tony Mowbray, Liam Richardson, Liam Manning and Michael Carrick.

Barton is in just his second job having also been in charge of Fleetwood Town, who he led to the play-offs in 2020, before his dismissal in January 2021, which led to him joining Rovers.

A departure from the Memorial Stadium seems unlikely given the former Manchester City midfielder recently penned a long-term deal at the West Country club.

Barton signed a new three-year deal which has him contracted until the summer of 2026 as he aims to lead the club into the Championship, whilst also recently speaking about Premier League ambitions, given Bristol hasn’t had representation in it since its inception in 1992.

He has spoken numerous times of his positive working relationship with chairman Wael al-Qadi, who has backed him considerably during his time at the club with three players brought in for transfer fees this summer.

Earlier this summer before Burnley appointed Man City legend Vincent Kompany, Barton had one time been a favourite for the vacancy at Turf Moore.

Despite what would have been an opportunity to manage at Championship level, Barton stated that he was keen to continue his learning his craft at Rovers and developing his skillset before managing at a higher level.

Barton is only an outside contender at this moment in time with the market certain to change as Stoke begin to put feelers out as to what candidates they could attract before deciding on a shortlist.

The leading favourite for the role is Sean Dyche, who previously managed Barton at Burnley, but was sacked with just eight games remaining of the Premier League season with the Clarets relegated.

Darren Ferguson, who is out of work after leaving Peterborough United earlier this year is also an option, as well as Duncan Ferguson who departed Barton’s beloved Everton this summer in a bid to forge his own career in the game.

*Odds right at the time of publication