Barton incidents 'pantomime stuff' - Dyche

Clarets boss Sean Dyche felt the controversy surrounding Joey Barton last weekend was "pantomime stuff."

Joey Barton and Matt Rhead speak to the referee
Joey Barton and Matt Rhead speak to the referee

And he has no question marks over his behaviour in his two spells with the club.

Barton was booked after an altercation with Lincoln City winger Terry Hawkridge, after an incident where he went to ground after making contact with Imps striker Matt Rhead.

Many felt he made a meal of that situation, and Barton came in for some severe criticism.

While it wasn't the first time in his career he's come under the spotlight, he has been impeccably behaved for Burnley, and Dyche, asked how the player has been this week, said: "Joey’s been terrific. I thought by a mile, by an absolute mile, he was the best player on the pitch last weekend, and I mean by a long margin. On both teams.

"So he’s been absolutely fine. He’s in good nick, as you can see, and he’s definitely up for the challenges that come in front of us."

On last weekend's incidents, Dyche added: "I think it’s pantomime stuff, myself. I’ve got to be honest. I’ve seen a lot more controversy around Joey than that.

"If that’s as far as it goes, I’ll be a happy man.

"That’s the way it goes. That’s just part of being Joey, I suppose. It could be a TV series, actually. Being Joey. It’d be interesting. Never a dull moment, unless he’s in here, training with me."

And Dyche doesn't feel Barton is being singled out, rather its symptomatic of today's society, where every utterance and action is under the microscope: "Like I say, at the end of the day, it’s just the way life is now.

"People should actually have been saying: What about the game? What about him?

"He was so far in front of everyone else on the pitch, it was incredible to look at.

"I really thought that. And I thought he was against Leicester as well. He was absolutely outstanding.

"Chelsea have two unbelievably high-quality midfielders, and I thought Joey more than dealt with what he needed to deal with. I think he’s been fantastic for us."

Barton has slotted straight back in at Burnley after an ill-fated time at Rangers, and Dyche hasn't been surprised: "No, I think when he came down, he felt he had something to offer, because he knew more about how we work here, he was willing to do the work to get ready to have a chance, rather than get the chance to get ready, fitness-wise and stuff like that.

"So when he did come in, he was ready. He’s always ready mentally, Joey, but he was ready physically.

"You can see that. If you think of the athletic power of Kante and Matic, well the two midfielders outran them by a mile, Joey and Westy. If you just looked at that, on a purely will and demand basis, it’s fair to say that he’s certainly demanding of himself, and of what’s around him."

People may feel he's not a good role model, but that desire and application can be a fine example: "People judge it in different ways, don’t they? There are certain things down the years… People have different things happen in their lives. I’ve only really spoken about his time with me and Burnley. I’ve never really commented on his time away from us. That’s a whole different thing. Myself, my staff, the team, the players here, Burnley Football Club, then… not a question mark for me."

And he is revered by the Burnley fans: "Well, I think he’s earned the right, though. Last year, he was exceptional. He’s come back in this year and been absolutely terrific, around here, around the place, his demand, his will.

"He was head and shoulders against Leicester, I thought, against a side as good as Chelsea, not head and shoulders but right up there with the top performers on the day. Last Saturday, I thought he was miles in front of anyone else on the pitch, absolutely miles in front. And includes my own players. I just thought he was miles in front of them."