Joey Barton caused a stir earlier this year - not for the first time in his life - when he slammed the standard of football in Scotland.
The former Premier League midfielder, who spent less than six months with Rangers towards the end of his playing career, compared the quality in the Scottish Premiership to that of League Two and even Sunday League in England.
He said on talkSPORT in March: “I’ve got a lot of respect for the tradition of Scottish football – Celtic and Rangers and the Old Firm – but the standard of football, let’s be serious, is pathetic up there.”
Barton’s harsh words sparked a backlash from Scottish football fans on social media.
Others, though, felt he had a point. The standard of football in Scotland *had* dipped dramatically over the past five-to-ten years.
Almost eight months on from his eyebrow-raising comments and Barton, who now manages League One side Fleetwood Town, has been speaking publicly about Scottish football again.
However, he now believes that the arrival of Steven Gerrard at Rangers has helped get the “interest back in Scottish football”.
He appears to have had a huge change of heart this season, as he admits the Scottish Premiership could now be won by one of a handful of teams. There’s no guarantee that Celtic will make it eight in a row this term.
"It's got the interest back in Scottish football,” Barton said on talkSPORT of Gerrard’s appointment at Ibrox, per the Daily Record.
"With the likes of Hearts at the top of the table and Aberdeen and Rangers just being back with the opportunity to win.
"People are now more interested in it because when it was just Celtic and they won everything at a canter it wasn't good to watch."
While Barton may have gone overboard with his opinion about Scottish football earlier this year, his latest comments are very hard to disagree with.
There is certainly more interest in Scottish football this season - and that’s largely thanks to Gerrard and the work he’s done in such a short space of time at Rangers.
Almost everybody assumed Celtic would romp home to yet another league title this season, but the league is currently wide open after 10 rounds of matches.
Hearts currently lead the way at the top of the Scottish Premiership, followed by Kilmarnock.
Celtic are third, but just two points above Rangers in fifth. It really is all to play for.
And even Barton is enjoying watching the action unfold.
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