Sitting cross-legged, swathed in a flowing bathrobe, Sean Dyche attains his accustomed state of inner calm. He is deep in the midst of his daily contemplation session, clearing his mind of transient worries and meaningless fears. He is the Kettering Buddha; a goateed guru, a ginger philosopher and a gravel-voiced mystic all at once. Metaphysical wholeness is the basis of his managerial success, while regular meditation is the cornerstone of his well-being.
Suddenly, somehow, he is aware that something is missing. The realisation dawns upon him: that something is Joey Barton.
For the past year or so, Sean Dyche has been meditating alongside Joey. At least, that's the only possible explanation for the midfielder's change of fortunes. While he's never going to shake off his penchant for snappy tackles and the occasional stray elbow, Barton's time with Burnley has been uncharacteristically serene. The constant tumult of his career at Queens Park Rangers seems a distant memory, with a season's worth of assured, well balanced performances helping to secure Burnley a Championship title and Barton a place in the PFA Team of the Year.
Our only surmise is that Dyche is a spiritual mentor to Barton, a man who has succeeded where others have failed. Whether or not Dyche is actually a proponent of yogic wellness, he has finally managed to calm down a player who many would, first and foremost, associate with booting Sergio Aguero up the arse. That is a considerable achievement, and Barton seems to have flourished under such Zen-like guidance.
Now, all of Dyche's good work is set to be undone. Just as he succeeded in damming the swelling torrent of rage in Barton's heart, it looks set to be unleashed in all its force and fury once more.
According to the BBC, Joey Barton has agreed personal terms with Rangers. Several outlets are reporting that he's about to undergo a medical at the club. The man himself has tweeted that he has been presented with a "challenge the competitive animal in me just could not turn down." Well, that's it then. Begin an orderly procession to the bunkers, for the world is now teetering on the precipice of total war.
On the face of it, Barton is a great signing for Rangers. The overall quality of the Championship is significantly higher than that of the SPL and, as such, he's the sort of player who could inspire a left-field title challenge for his new side. Nonetheless, the prospect of Barton moving to Glasgow is terrifying.
Ibrox is exactly the sort of environment that will encourage his inner mentalist, exactly the sort of place that will set his combustible temper alight. With the atmosphere of a gladiatorial arena and the aesthetics of a Soviet mega prison, the stadium is irresistible in its intensity. Rangers have everything to prove this season, and Barton is about to leap headfirst into the raging maelstrom of it all.
Imagine what will happen when Barton contests his first Old Firm derby. Imagine him going hammer and tongs with Scott Brown. Two indomitable spirits will come together; two utter headcases will be locked in a battle to the death. The thought of them gazing at each other from across the Ibrox pitch is enough to chill the marrow of our very bones. After we have seen the unspeakable brutalities that they inflict upon each other, none of us will ever be the same again.
Picture Barton now, a whirlwind of elbows, headbutts and two-footed lunges, cudgeling his foes into submission. Imagine him scoring a 90th-minute winner at Celtic Park, before being sent off for pinching Brendan Rodgers' nipples really, really hard. He's the new El Hadji Diouf, the man that Rangers' rivals will love to hate.
Barton is a partisan. He plays like a supporter, and absorbs the spirit of the fans. When he looks to the stands and sees thousands of ardent Gers inciting him to ever greater acts of recklessness, it's quite possible that something terrible will happen. That's what will make Barton's time at Rangers so infinitely watchable: the likelihood that he will cause some sort of diplomatic incident, or a perhaps a nuclear event, and so end the civilisation of man.