Clarets midfielder Joey Barton has revealed that he’s training harder than he ever has done in his career as he looks to escape the clutches of the Championship for a third time.
Speaking after the 0-0 stalemate against Wolves at the Molineux, where Sean Dyche’s side extended their unbeaten run to seven games, the 33-year-old feels he’s getting stronger because of the intense regime he’s experienced at Gawthorpe since signing for the season in August.
And the former Manchester City man, who has also played for Newcastle United, QPR and Marseille, is happier and enjoying his football more as a result.
“You get exactly what you expect - it’s a really organised environment and the training intensity is at a level that I’ve probably not been at before,” he said.
“I’ve never trained at that level but I feel so strong going in to games.
“You know if you apply yourself on a daily basis and you buy in to what this group is about then you’ll be very successful.
“There’s no other way we can be. It’s be an incredibly refreshing experience for me and it’s one that I’m really enjoying. It’s probably the happiest I’ve been in football for, easily, the last five years.
“They’re a great bunch and I’m really enjoying it.
“I’m really enjoying going to work every day because they’re a very refreshing group of people.
“Everyone leaves everything out there and sometimes in your football career, without naming names or pointing fingers, it’s not always like that.
“With this group it’s a pleasure to be a part of and I’m thoroughly enjoying my football.”
Barton added: “I’ve always enjoyed my football and I’ve always been very privileged to play football as a career.
“As a kid I just wanted to play football in stadiums because it’s what I loved doing.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to do that at a high level for the last 14 years. I’m really enjoying it and I don’t feel 33 even though my birth certificate says that’s what I am.
“I think I’ve found a new lease of life here with the training regime and the way the manager is, the way the fitness staff are and the players. It’s as good and as strong as I’ve felt in a long time. They’ve probably got me in the best shape I’ve been in in a long time.
“With games, after missing pre-season, I should just keep getting stronger and stronger and stronger.
“I’ve got to manage that with the experience - the gaffer’s brought me in to use my game management and ‘know how’ to see games out and I’m fortunate in the period that I’ve been in the team we’ve managed to do that.”
While Barton accepts that the fixture against Kenny Jackett’s side in the West Midlands won’t be one he’ll remember when he eventually hangs up his boots, the one-time England cap has stressed the importance of picking up points to build a momentum.
“We just keep motoring on, it’s a long season and I think we’re a quarter of the way through the Championship campaign,” he said.
“We know there are going to be a lot more difficult games.
“This was a tough game - on paper most people would probably have expected us to turn up and take three points.
“Credit to Wolves though, they dug in and we’ve ended up having to dig deep at the latter stages of the second half to take a point.
“That wasn’t the most memorable game.
“I don’t think I’ll remember that when I’ve got my pipe and slippers on in about 30 years time.
“Credit to Wolves - they’ve let the pitch grow really long.
“It wasn’t a surface for playing football on which I think is a massive tip of the hat to us.
“That shows what kind of quality we have because they don’t want to see Andre’s pace get in behind and they decided that it was a tactic that they were going to use.
“I see that as a massive feather in our cap because other teams are adjusting the way they play for when they play us. That’s always a sign of you being a good side.”
He added: “The Championship is a competitive league; nobody has a divine right to win because you’ve been in the Premier League.
“It doesn’t give you a divine right to bounce straight back up and I think statistics point to it actually being a very difficult thing to do. There’s a long way to go in the season but I think this point could be quite valuable.
“It’s a nice habit to have. It’s always good to win football matches but sometimes not losing them can really build the momentum and that’s what you’re going to need in this league in a 46-game season.
“You’ve just got to dig in there sometimes.
“Sometimes you don’t play your best football.”
The Clarets are unbeaten since Barton, a £5.8m signing for the Magpies back in 2007, made his full debut in the 2-1 triumph against Rotherham United at the New York Stadium last month.
However, he refuses to take the credit for Burnley’s form.
“The team were on a great run before I came in,” he said.
“It’s always nice to go on an unbeaten run, certainly when you start games, but the team were in a great place before I came here.
“The lads have done a fantastic job and we’ve got a really good squad here.
“It’s a squad effort and I’m just happy to be able to play a part in that.
“It’s a team effort. There will be games when the defenders and the back lads keep you in the game and there’ll be games where the strikers get you in a great position.
“The last two home games I think Vokesy and Andre have been magnificent and helped us in to two-goal leads.
“We’ve then managed to have enough experience and quality in the team to use our game management to get the three points.
“There’s a lot of us in here. The wealth of experience that we’ve got within the group is very good for this level and we’ve got to utilise that.
“That experience doesn’t get you promoted - it’s performances that get you promoted.
“Every point in this league is vital and if we can replicate our 15 game spell beyond this then we’ll be there or thereabouts.
“There’s a long way to go, we’re just over a quarter into the season so no-one at this football club will be getting ahead of themselves.
“There’s a lot of hard work between now and May if we’re going to go on and win this league.”