Joey Barton reveals he takes ‘huge inspiration’ from Eddie Howe, Genghis Khan and Billy Connolly as a football manager
When FourFourTwo turned up to Bristol Rovers’ Quarters training ground, we didn't expect to see Jack Weatherford’s best-selling book, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, sitting on Joey Barton's desk in his office.
It would have been incurious of us not to ask why, and we sense he’s not disappointed when we do.
“Genghis Khan has got a very bad reputation, not unlike myself," Barton tells FourFourTwo. "But he was quite innovative in lots of things he did.
“It’s the second time I’m reading it, It’s fascinating – I’m obsessed with world history. He was the first person to unite the Steppe tribes, plus there were his tactics around siege warfare. They also figured out how far a horse could run. Say they could run at top speed for 28 miles, they’d put a staging post with men and lots of horses at 26 miles.
"So I get a message, jump on a horse and ride as fast as I can for 26 miles, pick up another horse and keep doing that so the message gets relayed across the empire. They were in Vienna – if it wasn’t Genghis, it was his sons. They say about 70 per cent of the world’s population can relate their DNA back to the Mongols."
That's not the only book where Barton looks for inspiration, though, running FFT through other titles which have helped him transition from a player into a manager.
“I’m quite strange - I read three or four books simultaneously. I’ll read four chapters of one, then go to another. You find inspiration everywhere – my library’s pretty eclectic. It’s not just sports books, Billy Connolly’s in there – it’s amazing how many sports books you read that don’t inspire you, then you read one from a pop star and pick up loads you can use in a sporting context.
"Probably the most impactful book I read was Bill Walsh’s The Score Takes Care Of Itself. He turned the San Francisco 49ers from the worst franchise to Super Bowl champions.”
In footballing terms, Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe is certainly someone who Barton looks up to, though he also highlights his ambitions in the game as he points to veteran bosses who have stood the test of time.
“I think I’ll be one of those where you’ll have to carry me off in a box, or at least I hope so! That would mean you’ve been successful. It’s a volatile profession – only the lunatics sign up for it and I don’t think anyone will doubt me if I turn up in that space.
“But I have no God-given right to it. I’ve got to do the hard yards and be successful at every level. I take huge inspiration from Eddie Howe, who went in at Bournemouth and then built and built. If you keep working to get better every day, as Bill Walsh’s book title suggests, the score will take care of itself. If you don’t get better, you get worse – and in this game, if you keep getting worse, you get sacked.”