Former Rangers winger Neil McCann has claimed that Joey Barton is not a ‘disruptive influence’ and that manager Mark Warburton is to blame for the situation around the suspended Rangers midfielder.
Barton, who signed a two-year deal with the Ibrox side in the summer, is currently serving a three-week suspension after he was involved in a bust-up with team-mate Andy Halliday and Warburton in the wake of the club’s 5-1 defeat to city rivals Celtic.
The English midfielder had initially been hit with a one-week suspension and after missing the game against Ross County, but following a meeting on Monday he was hit with a further three-week ban by the club.
However, McCann believes that the three-week suspension was the result of what happened in Warburton’s office that morning between the manager and Barton.
The former Scotland international also questioned why the Englishman brought Barton to the club knowing full well that the player was opinionated and a controversial character.
Speaking during Sky Sports’ coverage of the Ibrox side’s 2-1 defeat to Aberdeen on Sunday, McCann said: “What I’ve heard is he’s not a bad professional, he’s not been a bad influence. Yes, he’s a bit mouthy, but we all know Joey is like that anyway. So deal with it – and that leads me to Mark Warburton.
“If you’re signing Joey Barton, you know what he’s coming with. He’s opinionated, he’s strongly opinionated. But I think Joey Barton is quite a driven guy. I watched the Old Firm game and I thought did he chuck it? He didn’t chuck it even when [Moussa] Dembele is scoring the fifth goal – he’s still throwing himself at it.
“So he’s been brought up here with a reputation. Now if you are frightened of that reputation, don’t give a forum to someone like that to air their views, otherwise, you’re going to have some sharp comments made.
“Now whether he’s upsetting guys within the dressing room or on the training field, I’ve been there, we’ve all had arguments, that’s fine. What’s happened upstairs in that office with Mark Warburton is quite clearly what has led to the suspension.
“It all goes back to the fact you have to manage a guy like that and I don’t think Mark Warburton has managed it like that.”
Despite his suspension, McCann believes that Barton can still do a job at Rangers, he added: “I believe Joey Barton is a good footballer and can offer a lot to Rangers on the pitch still.”