So we have heard comments in the last few days from Joey Barton criticising the England midfield and that he thinks he is in fact the best English midfielder. Barton spoke to the French magazine So Foot and suggested that Frank Lampard is on the way down and Steven Gerrard is injured a lot. However, Barton did at least admit that Jack Wilshere was a decent player. Barton was also critical of Gareth Barry and suggested that he was successful due to having a good agent and agreeing with the manager rather than his abilities as a footballer.
Barton has only won one England cap and it doesn’t look likely that he will be back involved any time soon. But the player believes this is due to his bad boy reputation. There is certainly some truth to the fact that Barton in many ways is just too much of a risk. Having Barton involved would be too much of a disruptive influence and it’s difficult to imagine a successful England team with him in it. Team spirit is very important and it tends to be one of those things that nearly all successful teams have in common.
Now, if Joey Barton was such a good player then it might be worth taking a gamble on him. However, simply he is not – so why bother? In the recent Premier League game against Aston Villa, Barton had a very forgettable game and had little to no influence. In fact he spent most of the game chasing after the referee to complain about every little decision and even though he is Newcastle’s captain, I felt he took it way too far!
Many people don’t think Barton is the answer, but can understand to some extent what he is saying about the England midfield and people have never been overly convinced with Lampard and Gerrard playing together and Lampard in particular has never really excelled as an England player. There is also continued debate on Gareth Barry and some people think that Scott Parker should be in the team ahead of him. In many ways Jack Wilshere emphasises the problem by the fact that England seem to be relying on a 19 year old midfielder who has made less than 50 Premier League appearances.
Barton was also critical of England’s approach and said “we are too focused on tradition in England, like having to play 4-4-2. Sometimes you need to experiment, drop a bit deeper so you have space that you can move into”
To be fair he is probably right about that to an extent. However, as outlined in a previous article, Capello looks prepared to switch to a 4-3-3 system. England do need to consider the midfield and think about the way forward, especially when Lampard and Gerrard retire. But in some ways this may not be a bad thing and we will wait and see what the next breed of midfielders bring to the table. Joey Barton though is simply not the answer.