Barkley made the news pages of the Mirror after being pulled up by a cabbie in his home town for spilling chips in his vehicle. According to the story, Barkley was drunk and that has not been denied.
Lampard’s response was appropriate and measured.
Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley recently made the news pages for an incident on a night out
Frank Lampard impressed with his response to the incident which saw Barkley spill his chips
‘Those are little things that shouldn’t happen,’ he said calmly. ‘What he has done is be naive. I like Ross but he has admitted making a mistake. I will take that at face value and we move on.’
Lampard made some mistakes off the field during his own career. They were more serious than Barkley’s indiscretion, too. Maybe they have given him perspective.
Undoubtedly he learned from them and now Barkley must do the same. The Chelsea player will soon be 26, which is not old but does put him at that stage of his career where he should be somewhere near his peak.
Barkley is not at his peak, though. He is still playing catch-up after a couple of seasons at Everton that were lost to injury, uncertainty about his future and the fact that one manager in particular — Ronald Koeman — did not rate him.
Barkley is still playing catch-up after a couple of seasons at Everton that were lost to injury
So, this season at Chelsea should be important to him. Too important to be wasted littering the streets of Merseyside on a weekend.
Lampard is right. Barkley’s conduct that night was low on the sliding scale of footballers behaving badly. The police, for example, have no record of it. But it was abysmally timed and that is the point. In Lampard’s team, in Gareth Southgate’s England squad again, these should be days for Barkley to keep his head up on the pitch — he has always been good at that — and down off it.
A look at Southgate’s group hints at opportunity. No Dele Alli, no Jesse Lingard. Two attacking players who started England’s World Cup semi-final last year are not there. It’s an open goal for Barkley and he must not miss it.
I have always championed him, even during his difficult days. Barkley has lovely vision and can play off both feet. He has football intelligence that you cannot teach but you have to be smart off the field, too. Traps are everywhere if you are dumb enough to fall into them.
There is an opportunity for Barkley to establish himself at both Chelsea and England right now
Last week Lampard bemoaned the age of the smartphone, a time when the public are too happy to snap photos of footballers in the street, in restaurants and, yes, in the back of taxis.
Privacy, such as it was, is no more.
Crucially, though, Lampard did not offer this as an excuse. He simply said the onus was even more on the players to behave and in saying that he gave a reminder of a coach at Manchester City who once spoke to me about the club’s players constantly being snapped fighting at training.
Barkley wasn’t just being naive during the night out in Liverpool — he was really stupid
I suggested the club build a bigger fence around the training ground to counter the lenses and he replied: ‘Yeah, we could. Alternatively, the players could stop fighting’.
And there, in a nutshell, we have it. The world is watching and as such the responsibility on footballers grows.
With that in mind, I would say Barkley wasn’t just naive. He was really stupid.
Two or three years ago, Sir Alex Ferguson sat with former colleagues and rivals after a League Managers Association meeting and spoke about the difficulties of bringing young players through from the academy.
‘It is getting harder but do we have one in the United system,’ Ferguson said. ‘We have one and he is going to be special.’ The boy in question was only 15 at the time and his name is Mason Greenwood.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope his old manager’s judgment is still as sound as it always was.
Sir Alex Ferguson praised Manchester United youngster Mason Greenwood a few years ago
Struggling Kieran Tierney’s cry for help
Everton’s Seamus Coleman invites young players from the club to dinner with himself and wife Rachel.
‘It’s not great, young players training and then going to their apartments and being bored,’ he once told this newspaper. ‘It shouldn’t happen, but it does.’
This sprang to mind when new Arsenal left back Kieran Tierney spoke about problems settling in London. At Celtic, Tierney lived with his parents. Now he is on his own and has not even ventured into the centre of the capital yet.
‘It’s not been great,’ he said. ‘I need to cook and I am still learning.’
Tierney is 22 and not a boy. Some may say he should just grow up. I would say he sounds like a young man struggling and it may be a while before we see the best of him on the field.
Kieran Tierney admitted he has not even ventured into central London since joining Arsenal
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder was a little hard on his goalkeeper after his gaffe against Liverpool. Henderson had let Georginio Wijnaldum’s shot trickle under him. But Wilder got the response he wanted from the 22-year-old this weekend. That bodes well for a young player with obvious talent.
The Leicester player says he doesn’t want a reputation for reckless challenges. He says he is learning. His foul on Mohamed Salah on Saturday suggests he needs to fast forward that process.