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When Joey Barton opted not to sign a new contract with Burnley and move to Scotland to sign a two-year contract with newly promoted Rangers, it came as a shock to Burnley fans who were expecting him to remain at Turf Moor.

It was all so swift. We won at Charlton on the first Saturday in May to clinch the title, two days later he was embarrassed at the Town Hall when there was no medal for him and by the following weekend he was reported to be in Glasgow having talks with Rangers.

The reports proved to be correct and within no time at all we knew we’d lost him and just over two weeks after we’d won that game at Charlton, he’d signed his new contract with Rangers and held his first press conference.

1516 burnley joey barton 03 500x550Since, there has been much speculation that we didn’t offer him the two years that he wanted and, even if we did, we were slow off the mark with our contract offer, but manager Sean Dyche, speaking about it for the first time, has dismissed that.

In an interview with the Scottish Herald, he admitted to his disappointment at Joey’s decision, but said: “To be honest, I was delighted for Joey before I thought about anything else. He was excellent for us and we had a good relationship, a very open relationship. We worked fantastically well. It was his decision so there was absolutely no baggage to that whatsoever.

“He did a brilliant job for us; I hope he does a brilliant job for Rangers and I think he will. I wish him well and wish Rangers all the best. It was a career choice, he wanted to go up there and experience what it is and be a part of a club the size of Rangers.

“He had a good chat with me and explained that. He was brilliant for me so I said ‘Joey, I wish you well’. I was disappointed that he made that decision but I totally understood it and I hope he is very successful at Rangers and has a really good season there in the Premiership.”

Asked if there had been much dialogue between him and ‘Gers boss Mark Warburton ahead of the move, he added: “No, he didn’t speak to me that much about it. There was a casual conversation when it got to a serious level and it looked like it was going to happen. I assured Warbo and said that Joey was excellent for us.

“He was good round the group, he bought into Burnley and the culture of the club and he delivered on the pitch. Whatever anyone has to say about Joey, nobody can question his performances for us last year. He was excellent.

“I think it was a really good year for many reasons, it was good for us but it was good for him as well. He was great for us on the pitch, but it was good for him because people said ‘you know what, he is a serious professional and a very good player’.

“There are bits and bobs in his life that are spoken about and he is thought of different, but last season I think he did a lot for himself as well. He is a serious player, he was very effective, and forgetting all the rest of it, he is a very good footballer. He certainly delivered for us.”

Joey wasn’t at Burnley when we travelled to Ibrox a year ago in pre-season so he’ll get a first opportunity to play in this fixture when we play them in two days time. I’m sure the Burnley supporters who are travelling to the game will want him to play. It will give us an opportunity to show our thanks to him for last season, something we haven’t previously been able to do.

From having a coke bottle thrown at him to being presented with one at the Supporters’ Clubs Player of the Year evening, from being public enemy number one to becoming a promotion hero, from being a player many weren’t keen on signing to become a Turf Moor hero.

Joey, as Sean says, was excellent for us and I’m sure we all wish him well at Rangers.

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