I couldn’t honestly write about Saturday without taking a look at the so-called “battle” between the two midfielders at the respective clubs. It wouldn’t have been right, especially when so much nonsense – utter, utter nonsense – was written about it before it kicked off.
I want you to take a look at the picture at the top of this page, because that picture is important.
Look at Scott Brown’s face. Look at the focus, the concentration, the utter dedication. Look at the unblinking stare. This is a guy who turned up for business, to do a job and to do it without preamble, fanfare or hype.
Take a look at Barton. The hard-man. Did a bit of bird, and thinks he can get by now on a name, a reputation, a lot of big talk. But he’s a cat without claws. He might have been a swaggering tom once, but now he’s had his nuts nipped and he just wants to lie beside the fire.
Look at him. He can’t even face Brown’s gaze. He’s got his head pointed down, eyes averted, like a boxer who’s talked up his chances but realises the second he’s in the ring just how utterly out of his depth and overmatched he actually is. Whatever Barton was, whatever he had, he ain’t that and he ain’t got it, not anymore and standing there in the cauldron of Parkhead at the weekend he seemed to know it, and his confidence was crushed like an empty beer-can.
That guy is here on holiday; I can’t put it more bluntly than that. He can get away with that kind of performance against the Dundee’s and the Hamilton’s of this world – although being nutmegged on your SPL debut is pretty embarrassing – but Celtic Park is no place to hide, and especially not from our captain, who, if you watch the footage, made a 50 yard dash towards him when Dembele made it 2-0, just to make that point.
I think it’s worth pointing out, as the media won’t bother to, that the run from Brown, when the ball wasn’t even in play, was more than Barton managed in the course of the game.
Let’s face it, this was a miss-match.
Brown controlled his area of the pitch throughout the time he was on the field. When he came off, young Callum was equally assured. Barton doesn’t even get the excuse that he was moved to central defence late in the day; his one contribution of note in the game came when he nearly put the ball in his own net, which I suspect would have raised the roof given his stated historic ambition to score for our club in front of Celtic Park’s packed stands.
The player who was going to “dominate the league” looks like a waste of a jersey, and at a time when Sevco needs every penny it can get it’s incredible that a guy such as this is able to breeze in and leech off a wage. Brown, on the other hand, looks as if he’s found an extra gear under Brendan and he’s clearly enjoying his football like never before.
The BBC, whose ridiculous “minute by minute” following of Barton’s debut has been strangely silent on the liability factor of having a guy in your team who’s simply not interested. Oh they are heaping opprobrium on Kranjcar, but Tom English aside – who also discussed the photo that heads this piece – Barton’s been excused his poor displays.
He’s “settling in.”
He’s “getting up to full fitness”.
He’s “learning the pace of the game here.”
All excuses I’ve heard or read in the last 24 hours.
Funny that Sinclair – who’s scored in 4 out of 4 games in the SPL and done the business in Europe didn’t need time to settle in.
Strange that Toure didn’t need much to get up to full fitness.
Odd that Dembele so easily, and quickly, adapted to the pace of the league … which is generally much slower than he is.
Barton’s mouth is bigger than his talent. His ego has already been punctured, and his lame apology to their fans on Twitter didn’t come close to easing the concerns some of them have about him. To those who think he’ll still come good, I say to them “look at that picture.”
Because that picture is important.
That picture’s worth more than a thousand words.
Barton the Bottler, looking down at the pitch.
Brown the Battler, focussed on the job.
In a different league?
Oh, sure. Certainly. Absolutely.
And everyone now knows which of the two belongs in the second tier.