Controversial former Rangers midfielder Joey Barton has expressed his delight at seeing Rangers land 55 this season as they romped their way to the Premiership title before the clocks had changed – and the Bristol Rovers boss thinks Steven Gerrard is on his way to becoming a “top” manager.
Having been part of the side when the Gers first returned to the Premiership under Mark Warburton, Barton knows exactly the pressure the Light Blues have been under to bring the title back to Ibrox and praised the Gers’ progress in Europe over the last two seasons.
Barton is well aware that things “didnt’t work out” during his own stint in Scotland but is delighted to see his former club finally get 55 over the line and spark massive celebrations from Rangers fans across the UK.
With the pair both coming from Huyton in Liverpool and having played against each other countless times, Barton told how Gerrard has helped him out in his own managerial journey, sending players on loan to work with Barton at his previous club Fleetwood Town.
“I’m really, really pleased,” Barton said [Sky Sports].
“I went up there when we were trying to win 55. I remember the feeling going into the club, I remember walking around Ibrox and the training centre and the passion and everything I went up there for.
“It obviously didn’t work out for me up there, it didn’t go the way I’d seen it going in my head. But that was the plan, that was the way it was meant to be.
“Stevie then goes up there, a player who I played against multiple times, he’s from the same part of Liverpool as me, somebody who I idolised as a player.
“What a player, arguably one of the better players that has ever come from these shores. On my managerial journey, he’s helped me out.
“To see them get the 55 and what it means to them, and the passion for their club is incredible.
“For it to be Stevie in his first job, I think what an incredible job he’s done. I’ve watched it unfold because I’ve lived in the hot house for a period, and obviously we started our managerial journeys about the same time, and you want them to do well.
“I think he’s on that pathway to becoming a top manager.
“You look at the goals conceded in the league table this year – people will look at Scottish football and the level of it – but look at the goals conceded and the performances in Europe.
“For a Scottish side to have done as well as they have in European competition, they deserve massive credit for that.
“Stevie’s done incredible things as a player, but I think it will sit right up there. It must make him proud as a manager.
“The price of greatness is responsibility and Stevie went up to Rangers and took on that responsibility. I think off the backside of it he’s achieved greatness.
“To be the manager that gets them back to the first title, and 55, that’s history. He’s already got it all at Liverpool and in English football, but he now gets that in Scotland and I know just how special that can be, and I’m so happy for them all.
“If you finish second in Scotland in the cups or the league it’s nothing, It’s different up there you’ve got to win, it’s about winning, and they’ve won this year.
“They’ve stopped the 10 in a row, they’ve stopped the Celtic juggernaut and that wasn’t easy to do because when I was at Rangers they were a long way behind Celtic.
“They’ve closed the gap and overthrown them, which is phenomenal achievement.”
Rangers fans have praised a senior Ger for a ‘sensational’ display at Parkhead and hammered a Celtic player for a ‘bitter’ post-match comment.