Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton tells Peterborough United's Jonson Clarke-Harris that he should not be playing in League One
When Posh visited the Memorial Stadium in November, Clarke-Harris paid a visit to Barton’s office, where the pair shared a chat.
While Barton did not manage Clarke-Harris at Rovers- the club Posh signed the forward from in 2020- the pair met on the pitch in October 2015, when Clarke-Harris was playing for Rotherham and Barton for Burnley.
Barton told the Bristol Post: “My full debut for Burnley was Rotherham away on a Friday night and Jonson was playing in the game and we were chatting during the game - he was a baby then, and I was in my 30s - I remember having a good chat with him, you read a lot about people, but I took him at that value - I’d met him and he seemed a decent enough lad.
"Obviously, we all do mad things but I’ve always watched his career just because you remember stuff like that. My observation was, I’m looking at him going, ‘you’re better than what you’re showing’.
"He came here, there were the horror stories - the standards had slipped in the place - and I think people like that type of personality, they need a bit of structure and someone getting after them to get the best out of them.”
Clarke-Harris is still League One’s top goalscorer, on 25 goals, and if he were to retain top spot, he will have the award in back-to-back League One campaigns but Barton has told him not to be satisfied with that.
He continued: “Clearly Fergie and the lads at Peterborough have done a good job with him because he’s consistently scored goals, but I had a chat with him and just as player to player I said, ‘just if you do, this, this and this, you’ll improve, and don’t just settled for being top scorer in the division'.
“Don’t just settle for being how you are at 30. I remember Steve Black used to say to me, ‘if you can’t get better then you may as well give up; stop playing, you’re wasting your time, you’re not getting out of bed with any motivation’.
"For me, I think he’s better than what he’s currently showing. “I spoke to Josh Windass, who was at Rangers with me, about the same thing, Barry Bannan - you shouldn’t be in this division.
“I never played in League One. If you’re a top player, it should embarrass you to have League One on your CV. Some lads get caught up in contracts, and you can’t get out of them because nobody is going to give you more money up a division, I get lads get tied into it. But if you’re a Championship or Premier League-level player, you’re doing yourself a disservice to be dropping down and playing against players you’re clearly above.
“Tiger Woods doesn’t drop down to the Korn Ferry Tour to win tournaments; he’s Tiger Woods, he plays at The Masters. Whether he can win it or not is a different equation, but he challenges at that level because that’s where he sees himself.
“There are teams at our level who are having themselves, massively, massively, and I’m like, ‘lads, settle yourselves down - you shouldn’t be here some of yous, the fact that you’re here is an embarrassment to you and the standards that you’re prepared to be playing at this level.'
"You should be so much better than this because you’re a good player and you’ve got so much more quality. That’s how I see it and I’ll never stop chasing people, who I think are receptive.
"Loads of people I know don’t care what I’ve got to say but I know Jonno has great respect for me, as I know from my early run-in. I’ll just say it as it is and if it impacts him for the positive then great, because I think he’s got more to give.”