Joey Barton: What next in Rangers row?

Rangers midfielder Joey Barton
Barton says he is puzzled by his training ground suspension

Whatever it was that Joey Barton said to Rangers team-mate Andy Halliday on the training ground the Tuesday after the 5-1 loss to Celtic can't have come as much of a surprise to anybody who knows what Barton is about.

Whatever he said subsequently to his manager, Mark Warburton, can't have come as a surprise either.

Barton has a tongue like barbed wire at times. Anybody with even a passing knowledge of the guy would know this.

You would expect the man who signed him in the summer to know it better than anybody.

It can't have gone down as a shock, either, when Barton went on talkSPORT on Friday morning to "defend my position". Barton feels a sense of injustice. This situation has degenerated into a mess now.

"I've been asked to re-evaluate the way I'm thinking, my thoughts, at this moment - and I don't think they're going to change," said Barton on radio.

Hardly a comment of a man who has considered what his manager has said to him and is seeing the error of his ways. Far from it.

"The way it's been handled is strange," he added. The way Rangers have handled it? That's not going to build bridges either.

"I don't think I've done anything to apologise for," he added. Again, he's at odds with his club who, clearly, feel he's done something wrong or else why tell him to stay away for a week?

There was more. "Any Rangers fan would expect Rangers players, after what's happened, to be hurting," he said.

Rangers manager Mark Warburton and Joey Barton
Warburton persuaded Barton to join on a two-year deal at the end of May

"I know they were hurting, the fans. It's not just a football match up here. It's not just three points on a Saturday. It's not that way. It goes a lot deeper in this city.

"You would be expecting the players to be holding some kind of inquest. Bear in mind that it's not only the Celtic game. We haven't quite hit our straps this season... The team isn't functioning well.

"Okay, I'm a huge part of that, but we're all not playing well. Is it through lack of desire? No. We're just struggling to find our way as a team. Hence, we're having the conversation we're having. Because finishing second in Scotland is nothing."

Rangers have eight points from a possible 15 in the Premiership. They have drawn 1-1 with the teams that finished 10th and 11th last season - Hamilton and Kilmarnock - have won 2-1 against the teams that finished 5th and 8th - Motherwell and Dundee - and have lost 5-1 to the champions, Celtic.

Barton's comments accurately reflect a poor start to the season, but Warburton has had a go at those who have, in his view, overly criticised his team's beginning to the season. Barton is justified in saying what he said, but his manager, you fancy, is not going to like him saying it publicly.

After their drubbing by Celtic - Warburton said it felt more like 3-1 than 5-1, another area where he is in conflict with Barton - you would have expected an honesty session at Rangers.

Given his personality, if there's going to be an honesty session then Barton is going to be pretty damn honest. Getting shocked by the severity of his language is akin to expressing amazement at turkey being served at Christmas.

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Moments from Joey Barton's Rangers career so far

Barton hasn't brought anything like his best football to Rangers. He's been a massive let-down - but his personality is his personality and that never changes. He can be confrontational in his views; insensitive, unfair and maybe even cruel.

He says everything he does and says is for one purpose and one purpose only - to win matches. That's his take on it. He's unbending on that. He says the message might be delivered unsympathetically, but that the message is right.

He didn't just develop these personality traits when he landed in Glasgow. So why has Warburton seen fit to expel him from the Rangers camp until Monday? Was this not just Barton behaving like Barton? This is part of what you sign up for when you bring him to your football club.

Training ground bust-ups are in the fabric of the game. They happen frequently. Mostly, we never hear about them until players have long since retired and are content, with the passage of time, to fill us in on what really went on back in the day.

Managers are there to manage. Warburton is not the only boss in Britain to have a difficult character on his books. Part of a manager's job is to handle these players without it becoming a public saga.

The news of this spat, or spats, was leaked. That's one question you have to ask of the Ibrox operation. How did it get out?

How, also, did it get to the point that Barton was sent from the training ground to cool down and then was allowed to pipe-up on live radio to explain how this episode has "changed the landscape slightly" for him at Ibrox.

Barton says don't shoot the messenger, just listen to the message. He'll meet with Warburton on Monday to plot a way through this, whatever direction that may take him.

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