Joey Barton must have perfected the apology by now. And this one wasn't too bad, by general standards. But it's not what we need right now.
The reason the support rallied behind Andy Halliday after reports of the rammy were not simply backing a fellow staunch brother. Much less because Barton was an alleged Tim. They did so because Barton has become a liability through his poor performances, whereas Halliday (although he was no better on Saturday) has not. Barton has arrived with a reputation, but part of that reputation is being a very good footballer. That affords him some benefit of the doubt. Up to a point. He surely can't complain about being dropped now, but he did, and lost the heid.
Joey Barton does not have a god given right to start for Rangers. If he wants to, he has to earn it on the pitch, and he simply hasn't done it. The fact he has actively made the team worse due to our previously excellent midfield has made it even worse. But that's the situation, and if he can't make the best of it, there's something deeply wrong.
But that's also the route to Barton's redemption. He can easily come back, but it must be backed up with better performances. This incident has resulted in every drop of leniency being pished down the drain. His Rangers career now rests solely on his ability and commitment. As it should. If he believes what he says, let him back it up. And if he can't - then, well, no our fault pal.
Scotland is not England. Sometimes players fail to adapt to other cultures. It's happened to players infinitely superior to Barton. There's no shame in it. But if he truly understands the pressure Rangers are under right now, he should understand why he should be nowhere near the teamsheet at the weekend.
The reports of repeated incidents are more troubling. He may have to change off the park too. But we can stand a rocket playing brilliantly. We can't stand one playing below par. Whether he's a bad apple or not, we can only observe what we can observe, his performances on the pitch. They've been shite. And for now, that's all we should care about. If they can improve, then we'll talk. For now, we're better off without him. But there's the new challenge he wanted. It's there for him if he wants it.
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