Kights and Joey
Burnley’s retained list was announced this week confirming the release of two members of the first team squad with neither of them a surprise.
Michael Kightly leaves after four years with the club having spent the last few months on loan at Burton while Joey Barton’s released was guaranteed due to the 18 month ban he received recently from the Football Association.
Players come, players go, that’s how football is. Some leave having made little impact but others, like these two, leave having made major contributions to the ever improving status of Burnley Football Club.
When Kights joined Burton on loan right at the end of the last transfer window, I suggested that he’d almost certainly played his last game for us. He had become just a fringe player at Burnley and was leaving to go and play Championship football until the end of the season when his contract was due to expire.
He did well; he scored some important goals for Burton which allowed them to climb away from the relegation places in the Championship much to the delight of Burnley supporters who were concerned they might drop into the bottom three.
He had a habit of scoring important goals. I certainly remember the two he got for Wolves in our promotion season of 2008/09 yet by the time we were chasing promotion again he was wearing our claret and blue rather than the old gold.
Not many players make a debut for Burnley against Blackburn but that was an honour that befell Kightly after he was signed on loan from Stoke at the end of August 2013. He joined us on a season long loan and what a season it proved to be.
With Ross Wallace facing surgery we couldn’t rely on Keith Treacy or Junior Stanislas who were too inconsistent and so Sean Dyche turned to Kights and Scott Arfield to play in the two wide positions more often than not.
He proved to be a very influential player as we secured promotion in second place behind Leicester and he went on a goal spree at the end of the season. His match winning goal at Blackpool on Good Friday all but clinched the promotion and three days later he scored the second against Wigan direct from a free kick on the left wing as we confirmed out place back in the Premier League.
That led to a three year deal for Kights but not to a continued place in the team. In those three years he started just 23 league games with only one coming in the season just finished when he was named in the team which beat Everton 2-1 at home.
It had looked as though he might move to Ipswich last August. We weren’t able to bring in a replacement but when Robbie Brady signed in January of this year it allowed Kightly to move to Burton.
I liked Kights, a player who got us up the pitch, and he’s leaving us with some great memories. No doubt those two goals against Blackpool and Wigan are right up there as is his performance against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 2014/15 on a night when he and David Jones stood out.
He was in the team at the start of the 2015/16 season and, I thought, playing well, but after the home defeat against Reading it was time for change. Arfield, who had been partnering Jones in the centre of midfield, moved into Kightly’s position with latest recruit Joey Barton taking over in that central role.
Joey Barton. That was a signing to encourage debate, but as Joey also formally leaves us there are no longer any debates at all, just a reflection on how fantastic he was for us in his two spells.
It’s a team game and Joey himself is always quick to acknowledge that. When he returned this year and scored the winner against Southampton, a television interviewer wanted to make it all about him. All Joey wanted to talk about were Tom Heaton’s saves at the end and the defending of Lowts, Keano, Ben Mee and Wardy.
He was one of the group and let’s face it, this is a player who was allowed back into the players’ WhatsApp group even before he’d signed for a second time.
I think we all saw in his performances that he’s a player with some quality as you would expect for someone who had played as often as he had in the Premier League. What was key though was how influential he was on the pitch. There were games during the promotion season when he was clearly the catalyst to us getting over the line with a win.
“I’ve not come here to finish second,” he said. I thought he’d lost his marbles when he said that to be honest but his ever growing influence on the team saw us go on that long, unbeaten run to take the title, if not the trophy, on the last day of the season.
He’d become such a key player that there was real disappointment when he left. We followed the Rangers story supportively as he saw his contract terminated and I don’t think you’d have found too many Burnley fans with any disappointment when the club confirmed his return.
All the time though there was the betting charge hanging over him although you wouldn’t have known given his performances. The one against Chelsea stands out for me when I thought he, above anyone else, was the player who got us back into the game with his cajoling and driving us forward to a well earned point.
With just four games left, and just when we thought he’d get to see out the season, the FA hit him with the ban which saw him suspended for the remaining games. That, of course, left the club with no option but to release him at the end of his deal.
He said a couple of days ago on Twitter: “Loved playing at Turf Moor. Privileged to have made memories that will last a lifetime with all the players, staff and fans.”
Both Kights and Joey will be remembered fondly and, no matter what happens in the future, both players will always be very welcome back at the Turf even if, in Joey’s case, I didn’t ever get my copy of his book signed.Share this page :