Rangers midfielder Joey Barton has revealed that, with the benefit of hindsight, he may have stayed with English Premier League new boys Burnley rather than have made the switch to Ibrox.
Barton put pen to paper on a two-year deal earlier this summer to join Mark Warburton’s side, shortly after helping the Clarets to the English Championship crown.
He quickly went about proclaiming himself as the best player in the country, including an insistence Celtic captain Scott Brown was not on his level.
However, it’s not worked out quite as player and club planned to this point, with Barton currently serving a three-week suspension after a training ground bust-up with team-mate Andy Halliday and manager Warburton.
Speaking with The Guardian last week prior to the launch of his autobiography, he said: “I needed another challenge, another experience, even though there have been days since then when I’ve thought: ‘Why? Why did I do that?’ But I’ve got to believe in Rangers even if it’s been much harder than I expected.
“Knowing what I know now? Reflecting on it, would I have made the same decision? Probably not. I’ve even been honest with people about that. There is an honesty that I am operating which means some people think I’m critiquing them. But I know that in time it will turn out to be the right decision. As tough as it is, adversity brings out the best in you.”
Aside from the off-the-field controversy, Barton has failed to live up to expectations on it, with Rangers winning only two of their five Premiership matches with the veteran in the side.
The former England international insists part of the problem is the weakness of his team-mates, as he’s not used to playing at a “lower level”.
He said: “It’s difficult when I’m playing at a level which, clearly, I’ve not played at before. 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.”
“I’ve come up making a bold statement about the champions of Scotland – saying we can overthrow them. I’ve said that the retired captain of Scotland [Brown] is not actually that good. I don’t think he’s in the same league as me. People have gone bang [Barton smacks his fist into his palm]. They are waiting for me to fall. I had to hit the ground playing like Lionel Messi to stand any chance.”