Joey Barton is football's Katie Hopkins, but Rangers deserve better than a boring big mouth
Joey Barton has made plenty of noise since joining Rangers, but has failed to make good on any of his trash-talk. Apart from flogging his new autobiography, his contribution to the Glasgow club and Scottish football has been lamentable, writes Desmond Kane.
He was busy tweeting about the benefits of spreading goodwill to all humankind on International Day of Peace on Wednesday.
Yet it is a great shame Joey Barton, busy punting a new book, did not consider a similar outlook in trying to make a success of himself at Rangers, a club who deserved better than the soap opera encouraged and endorsed by British football's biggest big mouth.
Barton is proof that actions continue to speak louder than words in life as he faces up to the end of his career in the Scottish Premiership, an outpost he stated he believed was beneath him before he touched down in No Mean City in May.
Four months on, and all Barton has achieved in Glasgow is being suspended for three weeks for verbally abusing a manager and his comrades. He suddenly has time to focus on the book.
He will surely soon have more time to write a closing chapter on being an imposter at Rangers - a fine body of work for a man who is a better bookseller than footballer these days.
Barton, now 34, an outspoken Twitter dweller and British football’s answer to Katie Hopkins, is a man who appears to know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
He joined Rangers, one of British football’s largest concerns, apparently on a £20,000-a-week two-year contract, but is somehow facing the end of his career in Scotland before the end of September.
It is difficult to escape from the conclusion that Barton is a player who only moved North to flog his autobiography, a point picked up on by the former Rangers forward Kris Boyd, who has branded him a "disgrace".
Why did Barton swap another season in the Premier League with Burnley for life in the Scottish Premiership if not merely for the publicity of moving to a bigger club?
If he was serious about Rangers, why did he not dispense with the attention-seeking opinionated drivel on social media, get his head down, work hard and be positive about his new surroundings? A figure who represented Manchester City, Newcastle, QPR and Marseille is suddenly like an empty jersey in Glasgow. Empty vessels make the most noise, as they say.
Joey Barton after the Celtic defeatReuters
"It’s difficult when I’m playing at a level which, clearly, I’ve not played at before," he said this week in an excerpt that illustrates why he and fellow midfielder Andy Halliday apparently engaged in a heated debate that led to him being banished. "It’s a much lower level and I’m trying to help people get to a higher level. They think me helping is me trying to say: ‘You’re not good enough.’ It’s difficult.""
The title of his autobiography is rich with irony. Joey Barton: No Nonsense. Yet this is a figure who is full of nonsense.
Barton has brought ignominy upon himself since the outset of July ending with an apparent verbal attack on Halliday and the Rangers manager Mark Warburton after a 5-1 humping by city rivals Celtic last week that has seen him suspended for three weeks. If such goings-on had happened at Burnley, would he have garnered as much interest for the tome?
Then again, there is a fair chance Barton would have been catapulted out of the Burnley first-team squad before his ego was given free rein. It is probably dawning on the Rangers manager Warburton that not only did he not need Barton as a player, but he did not need a man-child who shows more desire for publicity than his football.
Would the Burnley manager Sean Dyche, a figure who looks like he enjoys a pint and burger at the local Wetherspoons, have put up with Barton’s behaviour in Burnley? It is fair to say Warburton, very much a modern coach, has paid a heavy price for treating footballers like fellow adults.
Barton has been heard on national radio calling Warburton ‘Warbs’ - which says enough about the level of respect he has for the Rangers manager.
Barton would have been given short shrift if Jock Wallace, Graeme Souness or Walter Smith had been running Rangers. Paul Gascoigne was a loose cannon when he arrived at Ibrox from Lazio in 1995, but he would never dare cross Smith. Unlike Barton, Gascoigne’s desire or ability could never be questioned.
Barton is on the downhill run of his career with the summit disappearing rapidly behind him. So he has to somehow stay relevant. He has struggled badly for any level of form in the Scottish Premiership and is probably shocked in himself that he is nowhere near the level required to help Rangers sustain a challenge to Celtic in Scotland.
It is a pity Warburton has been left trying to defend Barton's outbursts that were amusing at first, but suddenly seem unbefitting of any player at any club. Barton berated the Celtic captain Scott Brown on the radio station TalkSport.
"Without being disrespectful to the players up there, people keep talking about Joey Barton v Scott Brown. He’s not even in my league – he’s nowhere near the level of player I am. He can’t get near me. If I play well, Brown does not stand a chance. That’s not me being blasé – that’s just me stating what I believe."
He thought it would be funny to direct his attention towards the Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers who he accused of having a “mid-life crisis”.
Joey Barton with WarburtonReuters
All this trash-talk that is more associated with boxing ended with a shredding at Celtic Park. It is will probably be the last time Barton is seen in a Rangers shirt. At least he mastered the art of trash-talk. If nothing else.
He was busy promoting his autobiography on Wednesday while claims that he bet on Barcelona’s drubbing of Celtic, a club he says tried to sign him a few months ago, are investigated by the Scottish Football Association. You could not make it up.
Barton was not quick enough for the Scottish Premiership. He is not as good as he thinks he is. Rangers were too big for him in every sense. He has repaid Warburton's goodwill with a glaring lack of respect towards a coach with the right philosophy on the game.
There is no excuse for poor behaviour in life, but monied professional football players appear to think they are above and beyond an acceptable level of decorum.
From fading class to blooming crass, Joey Barton is a man with a book out.