Can Joey Barton bounce back?
After a torrid time in Glasgow, is the England cap a spent force?
Since arriving at Glasgow Rangers in the summer, Joey Barton did little more than cause a stir north of the border, upsetting everyone from Celtic, fellow professionals, the SFA and even his own team-mates.
Followers of Scottish football’s most-successful side had hoped the England cap’s arrival from English Premier League side Burnley would be the start of a new chapter for the club. Alongside former Spurs playmaker Niko Kranjcar, they allowed themselves to dream of a return to the glory days of Terry Butcher, Paul Gascoigne and Ally McCoist strutting their stuff in Govan.
How to win friends and influence people
Kranjcar didn’t last long before being cruelly ruled out for the rest of the season with injury, but Joey Barton’s problems were of his own making. Barely in the door, he raised eyebrows when suggesting that he would be the best player in the Scottish top-flight. How to make friends, eh? He then dropped a major hint that Celtic and Scotland captain Scott Brown wasn’t in his league, oh, and Hoops manager Brendan Rodgers was having a mid-life crisis! More seriously, the SFA accused him of betting on Celtic to lose a Champions League fixture. All amusing to fans on both sides of the Old Firm divide, and it did set the scene nicely for a new season, it must be said.
What Rangers fans found far from funny however was his below-par performances on the park, and that of the entire Rangers team at the time. It came to a head in an ugly 5-1 loss to bitter rivals Celtic at Parkhead and, if that was bad, the bust-up in the locker room that followed was strictly 18+.
The details have never been fully released, but our understanding was Barton went through his team-mates, constructively in his eyes, before exploding when confronted by Andy Halliday, then going head-to-head with manager Mark Warburton. The result – he was suspended, and eventually released by the club, clutching a tidy severance package, which allegedly included a top-of-the-range coffee maker.
Don’t call it a comeback
The worst-kept secret of the winter was confirmed when 34-year-old Barton returned to midtable side Burnley, with manager Sean Dyche seemingly happy to give him another shot, for the remainder of the season at least.
The former Man City player turned out against Sunderland in an FA Cup Third Round tie recently, but is already facing the threat of a ban down south, with the FA claiming he broke rules by betting on over a thousand football matches and competitions between 2006 and 2016.
Both Barton and Burnley will be hoping what has been a glittering career doesn’t end in disgrace. Coral offer Joey at 5/1 to score anytime vs Southampton on his return to Turf Moor on Saturday.