JOEY BARTON, a true soccer sage if ever there was one, was never likely to become famous for his, ahem, impressive choices during his fairly nondescript career.
So, it is just a tad bewildering when he steps onto the podium to take a pop at someone else’s decision-making.
Barton has criticised Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay for opting to play for Scotland instead of the country of his birth, England.
Obviously, choosing his words with the care he picked a pass, he claimed: “He doesn’t want the weight of playing for England.”
But returning international boss Alex McLeish appears to have pulled off a major coup in persuading McTominay, who has a Glaswegian father, that his future rests with the Scots and is poised to name the 21-year-old in his squad this week ahead of friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary.
England gaffer Gareth Southgate had reportedly made a late – and ill-fated – bid to convince the Lancaster-born player he would be best served with his national team.
Barton, whose pedigree was not witnessed by too many in his brief and expensive stay at Ibrox, is not convinced McTominay, who has appeared 15 times for Jose Mourinho’s side this season, has made the right choice.
He told Alan Brazil on talkSPORT this morning: “He (Scott) obviously wants his summers off.
“He has shown his ambition, hasn’t he? He realises the weight of playing for England and working every summer – he doesn’t want that.
“Maybe Manchester United and Fergie have influenced it.
“Scotland have improved the last qualification campaign and if he feels more Scottish than English, fair play to the kid.
“It would have been easy to go financially to the England side and, if you are in the Manchester United team, then there’s a good chance you get called up by England. That has been a route map for a long period if you look at Lingard and Rashford etc.
“But fair play to the boy if he feels a passionate Scotsman like Mr Brazil here, then it can only be a good thing for Scotland because he is a seriously talented individual.”
Barton, it must be noted, has experience of football at the highest level with England. He came on as a substitute with 11 minutes to go in a friendly against Spain at Old Trafford on February 7, 2007.
The visitors won 1-0 with a goal from Andreas Iniesta and Barton was never seen again.
So, ahem, he is clearly the man to listen to when he dishes out advice about which route to take on the international circuit.
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