Joey Barton gives Bristol Rovers ultimatum as he ponders exit
The Gas manager is determined to get Bristol Rovers to the promised land of the Premier League.
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The 40-year-old has spoken previously of his ambition to take the Gas to the Premier League, despite the club having never played in the top tier, and it being 30 years since they played in the Championship. Barton himself had a career he can take satisfaction from having played for Manchester City, Newcastle United, QPR, Burnley and Marseille, with only Rangers as a real blemish on his playing career.
In management, Rovers is just his second job, having been given an opportunity by Fleetwood Town back in 2018. He was in charge for two-and-a-half seasons and led them to a play-off spot but suffered defeat, and later lost his job before returning to Rovers, where he oversaw a relegation. As a player, Barton got to play in the UEFA Cup and the Europa League for Marseille and Man City, but the Champions League alluded him. He has taken inspiration from last weeks Champions League semi-finals, and wants to one way achieve that, whether it be as a manager or as a coach.
"I think I would seriously consider it," said Barton on Having a Gas on BBC Radio Bristol when departing presenter Geoff Twentyman doubted his claims that he would quit football.
"From my perspective, I’ll have been at League One level another two years, it’d have been my fifth season and at some point you think am I going to be able to be what I personally want to be?
"Managing in the competitions I was never fortunate enough to be in as a player. Champions Leagues, World Cup’s, European Championship’s etc etc. I wouldn’t have to be the manager, I’d just want to go to those competitions with a team I’ve been part of and built and had a big say in and be in those stadiums and atmospheres.
"You’re watching the Champions League atmospheres the past two nights and you’re going wow. We’ve had a small sample of that with the last day of the season and once you’ve had a taste of that how can you not want success?"
Barton's contract runs out at the end of the 2025/26 season. He signed a four-year deal last summer after guiding the club to promotion from League Two at the first time of asking. In their first season back in the third tier they secured a 17th-placed finish in a season of consolidation. The former Newcastle United midfielder is hoping for improvement next season, and wants to be involved in the play-off mix.
He said: "Sometimes I do say things, I’m a bit bullish, there’s part of me that thinks I will be there. I believe as a football club we will be there. I say two years, and I do think if I can’t build Bristol Rovers as a credible Championship team in two years with the support I’ve had, the fan base and the owner, then I should maybe move on."