“What have I got myself into here?”
Joey Barton has given a detailed insight into his short spell at Rangers and the problems he encountered while contracted to the Scottish giants.
In an explosive interview with the Football CFP podcast, the former Rangers midfielder spoke of the difficulties coming to a club in a middle of a rebuilding phase.
He also spoke about his first, and only, Old Firm derby against Celtic.
Celtic 5-1 Rangers
On that infamous 5-1 defeat to Celtic at Parkhead, Barton claims that Rangers manager Mark Warburton changed the team the night before.
The former midfielder said Warburton acted out of fear that the starting XI had been leaked to new Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.
As a result, lifelong midfielder Andy Halliday, a lifelong Rangers fan, dropped out of the side. He was informed via text message, something Barton describes as amateurish.
“So he decided to change it.”
“We’re playing Celtic at Celtic Park. I’ve said I’m going to be the best player in Scotland and all eyes are on me and Scott Brown.
“We did team shape on Thursday. Friday night we are in a hotel even though it’s in Glasgow and a few of the lads are getting their f***ing barbers coming around.
“Some of these young players now, your Taverniers and that, it’s more important that your hair looks great for the game than they are actually ready so they have barbers in the room.
“Andy Halliday was having something to eat and he says: ‘I’m not playing tomorrow.’
“He was in the team shape on the Thursday. So, we’ve had all this preparation, so why is he changing the team on the Friday. We found out on the Saturday that Warbs was concerned the team had been leaked, so he decided to change it.
“Andy’s a mad Rangers fan and a good lad.”
“But he didn’t tell Andy – he texted him, despite us all being in the hotel. Andy’s a mad Rangers fan and a good lad. He was clearly upset. It was just amateur hour everywhere.
“Andy was gutted. Me and Kenny Miller were talking to him. It’s the first Old Firm game back in the Premiership and he wants to be part of it – and had been until Warbs changed his mind because he thought Brendan had been told his team.”
Barton continued, explaining how Warburton failed to inspire the Rangers dressing room before ultimately falling to a heavy defeat in Scottish football’s biggest game.
Warburton was “shaking” at half-time
“I go into the dressing room before the game, after the warm-up.
“You’re looking to your manager for leadership, you’re looking around the dressing room. It’s my first Old Firm game but these have had a few.
“Kenny Miller’s having a go, Andy Halliday’s having a go, they’re trying to galvanise the troops.
“What have I got myself into here?'”
“I look to my right-hand side and there’s Warburton, the manager, standing shaking like a s******g dog. Just shaking.
“We’re going out here in front of 60,000, running this gauntlet, and the manager – who I think first and foremost made the wrong team selection – you’re looking to for strength and leadership, he’s the general on the battlefield and he f*****g doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s shaking, he’s miles out of it.
“So at that point, I’m now like: ‘f*****g hell, what have I got myself into here?’
Barton On Scott Brown
Barton’s comments on himself being the league’s best player ahead of Scott Brown dominated the build-up to that game. The Celtic captain has had a glittering career in Glasgow, however, Barton remains adamant that Brown’s career would be respected a lot more had he taken a chance and gone to play in the Premier League.
“People go on about the Scott Brown handshake. They’ve caught me shaking hands and looking down, as if I was, like, scared of Scott.
“Listen I respect Scott as a player, he’s had a phenomenal career, but there’s a reason he’s not come to the Premier League.
“If you want to be the best you’ve got to play against the best.”
“There’s a reason he’s not come and mixed it in the big shark tank down here. And if he had done he’d probably get a lot more respect because he is a good player, there’s no doubt about it, I’ve seen that on the European nights.
“We always say he did well in the Champions League, and he did, but it’s easy doing well in the Champions League when you don’t have any competitive fixtures during the week and all you do is prep for a Wednesday night or a Tuesday night. In England, you can’t do that.
“Scott Brown, massive respect for him, incredible servant to Celtic and has done incredible things.
“He’ll say ‘why would you leave Celtic?’ but you’ve surely got to come and test yourself against Scholes, Gerrard.
“If you want to be the best you’ve got to play against the best. That’s my take.
“Everyone differs, but that was my take on it.”
Barton on Joleon Lescott
Barton also revealed how the club wanted him to take up a player/coach role and would often ask for his advice on potential signings. However, he revealed that one potential signing made him give the club an ultimatum.
“They asked my opinion on signings. [Niko] Kranjcar, Clint Hill, Matt Gilks. [Phillipe] Senderos was training with us.
“[Joleon] Lescott had given video evidence against me in an FA hearing after I got sent off against Manchester City. He’s a dog and not the kind of man I want to be sharing a dressing room with.
“But if he could have added to the team, I’d have swallowed it and got on with it. But his knees were like dust and I knew he couldn’t improve us, so I told Warbs: ‘if you sign him, I’m off.’
“Lescott failed the medical but Warbs told me I could go. If I gave him an ultimatum, I could go. But Lescott signed for a Greek club and didn’t play, so I was right on that.”
You can listen to the full interview with Barton here.
Originally published on April 25, 2020.