Joey Barton has given another bizarre interview about Sunderland – and has thanked fans of the Black Cats for re-charging his batteries ahead of the promotion run-in.
Barton’s Fleetwood side drew level on points with Sunderland on Tuesday evening as they beat Ipswich Town 1-0 – clawing their way into the play-off places as a result.
The former Newcastle United midfielder has often played the pantomime villain this season, not least during the 1-1 draw between the Cod Army and Black Cats last month.
And Barton has claimed that Sunderland fans only attended that game to ‘support’ him rather than their own team – and has revealed he is ‘grateful’ to them for deflecting attention away from his players.
Indeed, the 37-year-old – who is currently serving a two-match touchline ban – says he ‘loves’ the attention and claims that it has helped him re-charge his batteries ahead of the promotion run-in.
“I’m box-office wherever I go,” said Barton, speaking to the Fleetwood Weekly News.
“Sunderland fans are not bothered about Sunderland. They don’t care about Sunderland.
“They were there to support Joey Barton. I’m so happy, I’m so grateful to them.
“There’s nothing worse than having nobody care about you. There’s nothing worse than having no attention. It’s actually horrible.
“I do it to loads of people when they try and get my attention, I ignore them.
“I love when I go to a stadium and the opposition fans aren’t focusing on their team, they’re not focusing on their players, they’re not focusing on my players – they’re focusing on me.
“That means energy – and energy is powerful if channelled correctly – is being wasted. Our players can focus on their performance.
“Why don’t they just ignore me? Leave me alone. I’d just go away and I wouldn’t have the same impact. But once they take me on, it’s like an endless energy source of inspiration.
“Like the Sunderland fans, it was like a solar panel, absorbing the energy thinking ‘I’m going to need this for the next 12 games’.
“Thanks for charging my batteries, thank you very much. I love it, I absolutely love the role.”