Gordon Smith: Rangers winning at Aberdeen will hasten an exit for Joey Barton

Joey Barton (Jeff Holmes/PA Wire)
Joey Barton (Jeff Holmes/PA Wire)

IF it’s true, as has been suggested, there is a group of players within the Rangers dressing-room who want Joey Barton out, then they know what to do.

Beat Aberdeen at Pittodrie in his absence this afternoon and it is almost certain the Scouser’s days at Ibrox will be numbered.

I spoke about Barton in my column last week. But since then things have moved on apace.

Following his meeting with Mark Warburton last Monday the player was put on a three-week suspension.

Perhaps, even more significantly, it is my understanding the matter was taken out of the manager’s hands and is now being dealt with by Rangers’ HR department.

Knowing a bit about how politics work at football clubs, it is safe to assume that wouldn’t have happened had Warburton not been comfortable with the change of status.

I likewise believe Joey’s statement at the launch of his new book, No Nonsense, this week that he wanted to stay at Rangers won’t be quite as straightforward as it sounds.

He is a clever man and will know that it there is any chance of his returning to Ibrox he will need to stay on reasonable terms with the supporters.

Due to all the developments since last week, the one that will matter most was the 5-0 thumping of Queen of the South in the BetFred Cup at Ibrox on Tuesday night.

There, fans watched a team led by stand-in skipper Andy Halliday, the team-mate at the centre of Barton’s training ground row, return to the sparkle of last season.

Halliday is well known as being a Rangers fan who just happens to wear the jersey, a fact appreciated in the stands.

It was surely no coincidence then, he was given the loudest cheer of the night when his name was read out over the tannoy.

The very fact he was made captain on the night could be read as a Mark Warburton sending out a message.

More importantly, he went on to deliver on the park. As I always say, that is the key for all players, because if you are playing well in a winning team you will be forgiven a lot.

Which brings me round to the Aberdeen match.

The start Rangers have made to their Premiership campaign with Joey Barton in the side has been underwhelming.

In addition to the 5-1 defeat by Celtic there have been the trio of draws with Hamilton, Kilmarnock and Ross County.

However, a victory at Pittodrie, in a fixture with added spice because the clubs have not faced one another since 2012, would add real momentum to the season.

It won’t be easy. The Dons have been Celtic’s closest contenders in Rangers absence and look solid again, but if they play the way they did against Queens they will have a chance.

A chance of three points and also of hurrying Joey Barton out the door.


Joey Barton speaks out about Rangers bust-up in radio interview