By Ollie Irish
Joey Barton believes he is as good as any midfielder in England. Right. Let’s take a moment for that to sink in. And breathe out…
JB, who captained Newcastle United in Saturday’s 3-0 friendly win at Carlisle, is a very good player when he wants to be, maybe good enough to play for a top-six Prem club. But even on top form he’s some way short of the quality of the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard (I know, I know).
Barton told the Evening Chronicle: “For me, first and foremost I want to do well for Newcastle United.
“But watching some of the performances in the World Cup over the summer I think that on form, I’m as good as anybody in this country.
“I don’t say that lightly and I have to go out and prove that, but surely every midfielder in this country should be thinking like that?
“They should be looking at it and saying, ‘That’s where I want to be and that’s where I can go’.
“That’s my goal, and if I break into the England squad, it proves that I am doing fantastic for this football club. Firstly, I have to do well for Newcastle, though.”
I suppose I understand what Barton is trying to say: if Gerrard and Lampard can only play like donkeys in an England shirt, why not give me a go, cause at least I’ll bust a gut for my country. Except, would he? On the evidence of his club career, I’m sceptical.
He added: “At the end of the day, I was an England international as a box-to- box midfield player.
“I don’t say this lightly, but I’m a much more rounded footballer now than I was when I first signed for this club. Injuries have restricted my chances to show that.
“If I can sustain fitness for a long period of time, I’m very confident of finding the form that got me in the England squad.”
I just don’t see it.