Thursday 14 December 2017

Joey Barton was once tricked into believing that Alex Ferguson wanted him at Manchester United

Barton in action against United while playing for Queens Park Rangers. Getty
Barton in action against United while playing for Queens Park Rangers. Getty

Mark Critchley

Joey Barton was once tricked into believing that Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to sign him for Manchester United, the player’s new autobiography reveals.

The Rangers midfielder, who was suspended by the club last week following a training ground argument with a teammate, mistakenly believed he was in line to move to Old Trafford in 2011.

Barton was in a car with his agent Willie McKay, travelling to agree a deal with Queens Park Rangers, when he noticed the name ‘Sir Alex’ appears on McKay’s phone.

The phone was passed to Barton, and the voice on the other end says: “I’ve seen what you’re up to on Sky. Don’t go doing anything silly now. Why don’t you come here and we’ll have a conversation?”

Barton, a one-cap international who recently claimed that he should have partnered Steven Gerrard in England’s midfield on a regular basis, saw a move to United as one befitting his talent.

“Finally, a big club, and a great manager, had come to their senses,” he writes in No Nonsense: The Autobiography, in quotes picked up by The Guardian.

“I would give Manchester United's midfield a bit of bite, an injection of urgency. 'What are you waiting for?' I asked McKay. 'Turn the bloody car round.'"

McKay then came clean, told Barton about his friend Joe’s faultless Ferguson impression and drove on to QPR’s training ground, where his client signed a four-year contract with the newly-promoted club.

The former Manchester City midfielder's autobiography also reveals that he came close to signing for Liverpool in 2004, only for Gerard Houllier’s dismissal to kill the deal.

“I met with Gerard Houllier at Melwood, and agreed everything verbally,” he writes. “A deal was close to being concluded but then he was sacked that summer. It was never revived.”

Houllier’s replacement, Rafael Benitez, ended the pursuit  of Barton and instead signed Xabi Alonso, who went on to make 210 appearances for the club.

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