May 31, 2016

What makes Rangers’ new signing a game-changer?

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On the 24th of May, Joseph Anthony Barton or ‘Joey Barton’ as he is more commonly known signed a two-year deal with Glasgow Rangers in the Scottish Premiership. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Barton 33, described the decision to leave behind another Premier League challenge at Burnley as the “toughest decision of his professional life”. Going on to suggest that his reasoning was to embark on more challenges by way of gaining silverware than for playing at the bottom of the Premier League with Burnley in his last seasons in the game.

But why do Rangers want Joey Barton? Rangers are a team that has changed its philosophy over its transition through the leagues. Younger players such as McKay, Halliday and Tavernier have come to the fray at Ibrox with the Kris Boyds of the world shown the exit door. So why have Rangers gone back to an early thirties ‘been there and done that’ type of player?

Firstly, his grit. Over the last 15 years, Barton has become one of the most notorious English midfielders in the game for his antics both on and off the field. Barton has received prison time for two assault charges, spending 77 days behind bars in 2008 after an incident in Liverpool city centre. He has always been portrayed as an aggressive footballer, with 110 cautions and nine red cards throughout his career. He could be described as an old school ‘gritty’ footballer. Starting his career as a more defensive player before slowly moving up the field to a more midfield role, Barton has been known to be a ball winner more than a goal scorer with only 36 goals in his career (that is one goal for every three yellow cards).

The grit that Barton has possessed on the field of play has led him to be an effective leader in almost every team he has played for. Appearing in over 200 English Premier League games for the likes of Manchester City (pre-champions era), Newcastle and QPR, Barton has had to go toe-to-toe with some of the best footballers in the world, against a lot of teams better than the ones he was in. His dogged nature has led him to be effective and lead by example to the rest of his team with robust tackles and challenging the officials on every decision. His grit will also lead him to success in Scotland.

Joey Barton is about to embark on a season which will lead him into the ‘Old Firm’ derby, one of the most notorious games in all of British football. This grit, if channelled, will be the perfect match for someone such as Scott Brown on the other side of the ‘ugly sister’ match up. Mark Warburton’s decision to bring Barton to the club, even if it was for just that game, appears to be a master stroke. For the first time in Joey Bartons career, he is playing at a club that demands silverware, the grit, and determination he has shown thus far in his career will galvanize Rangers to help fight for the trophies that such a historic Scottish club, have the right to earn.

Another effective talent that Barton possesses that has helped him achieve his persona and will also help Rangers achieve silverware is his passion.

Every football fan in Britain has their opinions on Joey Barton. You can love the man, you can hate the man, you can call him old fashioned, you can call him deluded, but one thing nobody can doubt with this man is his passion for football.

Barton has become somewhat of a social media guru in the footballing world through platforms such as twitter. He has an opinion on every story in the game and being the character he is, he is not in any way shy to voice those opinions. This was made prevalent during his first England call-up on the 2nd of February 2007, when Barton’s club football successes were illustrated when the ‘wolly with the brolly’ gave Barton his first senior England call-up (he had a goal and two caps at U21 level) for a friendly against Spain at Old Trafford. Barton had publically criticised many of the England players that he now called teammates for releasing autobiographies despite a very poor 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Joey Barton accused players such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard of ‘cashing in’ on the national teams lack of success. Gerrard went on to praise Barton for his honesty, however, in contrast, Lampard went on to criticise the comments made. It can be argued that these comments illustrate Barton’s passion, believing that when representing your country, players should do better and conduct themselves in an utmost fashion.

Barton’s passion can also be illustrated in recent comments made to the Daily mail with regards to why he decided to move to Scotland than to have another shot at the Premier League having achieved promotion with Burnley. Barton went on to suggest that football is not about the finances involved but about the ‘challenges’ that football brings and Barton’s ability to ‘focus’ on them. Joey Barton is seen by many as a dying breed of an old style footballer. Some people may argue, and do, that Barton has too much to say about everything and should know
when to back out.

However, the fact that he has an opinion on everything in the game illustrates his passion for the game and speaking as someone who is very passionate about football with an opinion on most things, it’s arguable that passion can only be a good thing in football.

The passion that Joey Barton will bring to Rangers could lead them to silverware in domestic competitions such as the League or Scottish Cup or maybe even help Rangers drive to challenge the likes of Celtic and Aberdeen to be champions of Scotland once more.

Passion is something which Rangers have arguably lacked within the squad in recent times, it could be suggested that the lack of passion is the reason it took Rangers four seasons to get back to the elites in Scotland, not the desired three. This might have been different had Barton been there.

Alongside grit and passion, something else that he will bring to Rangers is leadership. Joey Barton is a very intelligent footballer. In unison with the Diego Costa’s and Pepe’s of the world he is a footballer that unless a member of your team, people love to hate and this is due to Barton’s footballing head.

Barton has been around the game professionally for 14 seasons now, appearing in over 350 games, the vast majority of those in the top flight of England, with European, French League 1 and English Championship appearances mixed in as well. He is a very experienced team leader, he knows how to irritate certain players, officials, and fans.

This can be illustrated by ‘tongue and cheek’ comments Barton made on Celtic fans being unemployed and how all the pressure is on Celtic to retain the Scottish title. Barton could be described as a Mourinho on the pitch, someone who tries to master ‘trash talk’ by defending his team in comments and applying pressure to rivals and opponents. Disliking Barton is exactly what he wants you as a fan and players to do so they are distracted from successfully carrying out their tasks on the field of play.

If Joey Barton was not disliked, it could be suggested he would not be as influential of a player as he is today. His leadership and passion make those around him perform better. This is a priceless and very effective asset to have from any footballer and it is arguably the most prevalent skill that Barton has.

The first signing for Mark Warburton this summer may very well be his best. Joey Barton is exactly the sort of player that Rangers, a supposed underdog to their bitter rival’s Celtic need to galvanize the dressing room in the old firm and in must-win games to apply pressure to the hoops. His experiences in the game will help the younger members of the squad gain confidence to perform on the big stage. Rangers may not win the league this season, but a better challenge and the possibility of silverware by way of a domestic cup grew a lot bigger with the signing of Joey Barton. He is a disliked footballer but is effective in three crucial assets of the game and it is why he is known by every British football fan, and why he will continue to be a success.

Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Fulham FC.

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Aspiring sports journalist and currently a 4th year undergraduate to a Broadcast Journalism Honours degree. Avid sports fan, particularly football where I am a full licensed semi-professional official.

Comments to What makes Rangers’ new signing a game-changer?

  • @Joey7Barton getting sent off a lot!

    eurofoot eurofoot May 31, 2016 7:03 pm