New signing Joey Barton admits he wouldn’t have joined Burnley if he didn’t think they could be promoted back to the Premier League – as champions.
Barton agreed a one-year deal with the Clarets last Thursday before being unveiled to the media on Tuesday.
And, while he was keen to stay in the top flight after leaving relegated QPR in the summer, the 33-year-old insists this move is the next best thing.
Barton is impressed with the “socialist ethos” Sean Dyche has instilled at the club – one of the reasons he believes Turf Moor is the right place, at the right time, for him.
Asked whether the hard-work ethic was a big reason for signing, he said: “Yes, 100%. The socialist ethos that the manager has built here where everyone buys into the culture, where the team comes before any individual.
“And also I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we could win the league.
“I’ve been in the Championship twice, I’ve won it once with Newcastle, and got out of it by hook or by crook the same year Burnley did with QPR.
“I’m not coming into this league to sit mid-table somewhere, I don’t really want to do the play-offs again because that was quite heart-wrenching, especially the way we did it.
“The goal is to be better than what’s happened before, I think, as a football club.”
From what he has seen so far, he feels the Premier League experience has enhanced the club on and off the pitch: “I think the football club looks to have been really progressing, certainly since the Premier League money, it looks like they’ve utilised it well.
“It looks like they’re spending on the training ground, spending on the infrastructure at the club.
“They finished second last time out, and I know they’ve lost Danny Ings and Jason Shackell and Kieran Trippier – any side would struggle to absorb the losses of them – but the manager and the team here have recruited and the goal has to be to win the Championship.
“I think that’s what we’re all here for.
“I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think we had an opportunity to do that.
“It’s going to be a lot of hard work but certainly judging off the first few days’ training, the hard work and the desire is there in abundance.”
And his ambitions for the club lie beyond this season, if all goes to plan: “It’s entirely up to the club. I’m just really happy to get in here and start working.
“What the future holds I don’t know.
“But if they want me to stay here, all being well, that will be good for both parties.
“I think this club’s progressing.
“I don’t think it’s like after the Lord Mayor’s Show in terms of Premier League-relegated, I actually think it’s going to progress forward.
“The aim has to be consolidation in the Premier League and build what the likes of Southampton and Swansea have done.
“If I didn’t think they wanted to do that or were capable of doing that I wouldn’t be here.
“I could have gone and played in one of these almost exhibition leagues where you get an awful lot of money and it’s a very easy standard and it’s generally a nice climate.
“But that isn’t for me, I’m a competitive animal and I’ve got a lot to offer. I thought it was at Premier League level. It doesn’t seem they concluded the same as me.
“I have a lot to prove, I want to get back to playing in the Premier League.
“It would be great to do it with Burnley and it would be great to do it with this set of people because I think they’re ready for it.
“Hopefully I can just add something to that.”