Joey Barton has told FourFourTwo he was unsure that Pep Guardiola would agree to become Manchester City’s manager, having been snubbed by the Blues as a player 11 years earlier.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has enjoyed a winning start to life in the Premier League – securing victories against Sunderland, Stoke and West Ham – as he looks to claim a domestic league title in a third different country.
I was sceptical about whether he’d take the Man City job because they never signed him. He was clearly good enough
Pep’s playing career was equally decorated, featuring six La Liga titles, the European Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup with Barcelona, who he first joined as a 13-year-old back in 1984.
After spending time in Italy with Brescia and Roma following his Camp Nou exit in 2001, Guardiola closed out his career with stints in both Doha and Mexico.
But the midfielder could have moved to Man City in 2005, when he was offered a trial, and Barton wondered whether their reluctance to hand him a deal then may have come back to haunt them when courting his signature as a coach.
Speaking exclusively in the October 2016 issue of FourFourTwo, he says: “I was sceptical about whether he’d take the City job because they never signed him. He was clearly good enough. Whether it was politics at the time, I don’t know.
“I was one of the few who spoke to him. Not many people knew who he was, which was strange, or if they did then they didn’t let on. I knew who he was and how he played, as I had watched him for a very long time.”
I haven’t met him since but I keep thinking about reaching out to him, asking if he remembers me
Having helped Burnley seal promotion back to the Premier League, 34-year-old Barton is now hoping for similar success north of the border with Rangers.
However, the ex-Newcastle, QPR and Marseille man is eyeing a future career in management, and may tap up his short-term City team-mate for some tips.
“I haven’t met him since but I keep thinking about reaching out to him, asking if he remembers me,” Barton says. “I would be surprised if he doesn’t, if he’s as analytical as I believe him to be. Maybe I’ll need to lean on him at some point in the future if I’m a coach – maybe he could teach me a lot.”
Read the full One-on-One interview with Joey Barton in the October 2016 issue of FourFourTwo, in which we assess how Jurgen Klopp is going about trying to put Liverpool back on their perch. Also this month: FFT's alternative guide to the Champions League, what happened when our man travelled on the Bromley team coach to Torquay, Greenland’s seven-day season, football’s best boozers and British sides’ best underdog displays in Europe. Go get it, then subscribe!