Why can't Joey Barton just admit he failed at Rangers?
When Joey Barton signed for Rangers on a two-year deal in 2016, it’s fair to say the vast majority of supporters were anticipating big things. Newly promoted and transformed under then-gaffer Mark Warburton, Barton's acquisition signalled intent. The player was expected to guarantee the sort of quality needed to overthrow a dominant but conquerable Celtic.
Things took a slightly different trajectory. Barely a month had elapsed in the campaign before the controversial Scouser was banned for breaching club discipline. A heated argument with Andy Halliday in the wake of an embarrassing Old Firm defeat was cited as the catalyst. By November, Barton and Rangers officially parted ways. The experiment, it’s once more fair to say, had failed.
The Manchester City academy graduate has been extremely forthcoming with his views on Scottish football in the interim. He recently expatiated on his time in Glasgow on Talksport.
I’ve got a lot of respect for the tradition of Scottish football, Celtic and Rangers and the Old Firm, but the standard of football, let’s be serious, is pathetic up there.
While discussing his experiences north of the border, Barton was keen to dispel any notion he had struggled in the Scottish Premiership, adducing his lengthy career in England’s top flight as evidence.
Few Rangers fans would argue about Barton’s undoubted pedigree either prior to or following his time at the club. The fact remains he was a massive disappointment and generally anonymous in his few outings for the Light Blues.
The player himself claimed that his motive for leaving was directly related to the standard of football in which he found himself playing. This go-to platitude smacks of an excuse, possibly in a bid to divert attention away from the frankly ridiculous comments Barton made in reference to Celtic captain Scott Brown.
A reporter’s calculated line of questioning stoked a fire between the two players long before a competitive ball was kicked. Media, pundits, and supporters all were eager to see who would emerge on top.
The outcome of their first and only encounter was as conclusive as it was embarrassing. Barton left the pitch with egg on his face. Far from demonstrating the ‘levels’ that the once-capped England international believed separated him from Brown, Barton delivered an excruciatingly abject performance, now viewed as synonymous with his short spell at Ibrox.
Admittedly the entire Rangers team was a disgrace that day. Regardless Barton's arrogance in dishing out criticism to his teammates was nothing short of galling. You could understand a club stalwart taking umbrage at a collectively lacklustre display and venting his frustrations internally, particularly if said player commanded the group's respect. Barton did not fall into that category. His infamous outburst was deemed sufficient cause for indefinite banishment and ultimately led to a mutually terminated contract.
In time people would probably forget the 35-year-old’s fleeting pitstop at Rangers save for his continual, condescending remarks. If you’re going to elevate yourself and mock the ability of both peers and rivals, you had best justify your talk with action. Barton did not. He can belittle and disparage Scottish football as he likes. That won’t alter the general percipience among Rangers fans that he fell well short of delivering on his promise.