Mark Hateley (remember him?) has popped up to throw his two bob into the Joey Barton saga. His organ of choice was, of course, The Daily Record, where he used to work and who will simply print everything he says. This is all pretty standard stuff.
And what are Hateley’s pearls of wisdom?
That Barton should respect the “traditions of the club” and that he should begin acting as if he understands them, and gets what it takes to be a footballer at Ibrox.
Here’s the problem, and it’s one Hateley and others are having trouble with.
Barton knows all of that, and he’s acted that way from the off.
This was a guy who had the “traditions” sussed before he even formally signed his deal. You can tell that with the WATP hashtag he put on the ends of his tweets, and the delight with which he embraced his initial “rapport” with the fans, something that was never going to last.
His embrace of the culture was cemented on the park at Linfield.
Hateley has also missed that Barton’s social media nonsense was fully endorsed by the manager, on the caveat that it was Celtic employees he was attacking. I said at the time that this would haunt Warburton before long; nothing was surer. Furthermore, Barton’s attitude was right in line with that of the manager himself, and other players in the squad, whose casual dismissal of every other club in the league revealed an appalling arrogance inside Ibrox.
Numerous press statements by those inside the club are as bad as, if not worse, than anything Barton has said on social media or in interviews since. The club’s own abysmal behaviour in the aftermath of the Scottish Cup Final last season arguably shows less respect for the national sport and everyone in it than any comments Barton might have made to Warburton himself, and in the player’s defence his were made privately, at a player’s meeting where he and others had been encouraged to speak their minds.
Barton’s gambling isn’t exactly running counter to the Sevco tradition either; he is the third player that we know of to be done for this whilst inside the walls of Ibrox.
Sevco’s former manager, Ally McCoist, also waved sheets of paper on which he claimed were the names of others who’d done a similar thing. In other words, he refused to condemn his players for something which he claimed was widespread, and as no-one ever corrected that assumption it’s not unreasonable to surmise that there’s a feeling inside the ground that this is a stupid rule which doesn’t have to be obeyed.
The problem with Barton isn’t that he’s failing to live up to some high standard which this club sets itself. It sets itself no such standards at all. It is run by a criminal, populated by liars and chancers, supported in part by dangerous, intolerant goons and has a monstrous opinion of itself and its place in the world which is not, in any way, representative of its actual position in it. No, Barton’s problem is that he encapsulates the club perfectly … and all the furore surrounding him is in no small part to do with the belated realisation that he’s past it, past his best, his peak, and that the club is not going to get much more out of him.
The problem is that they’ve squandered their dough at a time when they need it most.
But that too is typical of the Ibrox operation.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.