Opinion on Joey Barton – in Scotland and within the walls of Ibrox – is more divided than at any other stage of his colourful and controversial career.
Currently serving a three-match club ban for a breach of discipline, Barton missed Rangers’ lunchtime defeat to Aberdeen but there was still no keeping him out of the limelight.
The absence of an experienced campaigner proved costly for Mark Warburton who cut an angry figure as he berated officials before stomping off the Pittodrie pitch.
Another bad day at the office for the Rangers boss whose side went down to a late James Maddison free kick which fired Aberdeen to second place.
No escaping the Barton factor though as Sky pundit Neil McCann, a former Rangers player and now a respected authority on Scottish football, provided a case for his old club keeping Barton. And not just because it would cost a fortune to bin him.
Okay, so he’s had a spat with a teammate and a reported row with the manager (Mark Warburton), but that is par for the course with ex-con Barton.
McCann believes that the former Manchester City, Newcastle, QPR and Burnley midfielder has a lot to offer Rangers, providing they can keep him in check. Easier said than done!
The former Scottish international is eloquent and succinct, and his opinion is both valid and valued. So let’s hear what he has to say about one of football’s modern-day mavericks.
Speaking on Sky Sports before the Aberdeen-Rangers clash at Pittodrie, McCann said: “The first thing I have to say is that Joey Barton is out of order for disrespecting the league he is playing in.
“Equally, he should not have been disrespectful to fellow professionals working in this league, and especially his own teammates by saying he’s operating at ‘a lower level’.
“If Barton is a bad influence in the dressing room and on the pitch, and he is a bad professional, then get rid of him. But from what I hear he is NOT a bad influence and NOT a bad pro.
“Yes, he is a bit mouthy and opinionated but then we knew that before he’d even signed for Rangers who knew he was coming with baggage. So deal with it.”
McCann concluded: “If you are going to bring in someone like him, embrace it. He is a good footballer who can contribute a lot, with his experience, to Rangers Football Club.”
Wise words from a wise man. But whilst opinion will always be divided over bad boy Barton, one thing you can guarantee is – it won’t be the last time he hits the headlines for all the wrong reasons.