Joey Barton: Hero or Villain?
Whilst there have been many players who have gained the marmite status with football fans over the years (Robbie Savage), the most compelling of those has got to be Joey. The regrettable actions over the weekend have further enhanced this debate once m…
Whilst there have been many players who have gained the marmite status with football fans over the years (Robbie Savage), the most compelling of those has got to be Joey. The regrettable actions over the weekend have further enhanced this debate once more. Whilst Barton’s poignant tweets about George Washington have displayed intelligence, his theatrical tumble has again shrouded him in controversy.
Joey Barton is no stranger to being a public hate figure and the remarks made about MOTD pundit Alan Shearer would have done little to appease bemused Newcastle fans. However the slap from Gervinho was as brittle as Newcastle’s forward-line, but surely fans would have been left wondering wouldn’t the situation have been better resolved by staying on your feet? Yes it was questionable why the ref did not punish Alex Song, but again Joeys chequered past may have influenced the decision.
Fabio Capello’s frank explanation as to why Barton has been frozen out of the set up again paint’s the picture of a pantomime villain, as when quizzed about his continuous omission Capello replied ‘He is a good but dangerous player because you could end up 10 v 11. He might get sent off’. The rejection surrounding Capello’s comments echo the hostility which the England set-up has viewed Barton, with many senior players incensed at Barton’s criticism of those who are regularly picked, Gareth Barry being one of them. Yet amidst the comments, Barton responded rather cryptically via twitter ‘On the plus side at least Capello knows who I am, I was beginning to think I was the invisible man’. But is it not sad for Barton loyalists, that those in the upper echelons of the game may see him as an ‘invisible’ thug?
One major reason why Barton has been portrayed as ‘dangerous’ is the bust up with current manager Alan Pardrew, his continuous tweets about the bitter in house fighting causing much unease. There is some substance to Pardrew’s argument as rather than airing out dirty linin within the realms of social media, a face to face conversation in the manager’s office would ease the tension already associated with Barton’s name.
But during his career, acute football fans would agree that he possesses the talents of a midfielder enforcer in the mould of a cleverer Julian Dicks. His time at Manchester City would support this, with a team that does not bear mention to the one where Aguero grace’s the turf at Eastland’s, Barton was a pillar of inspiration and the catalyst for the city revolution to begin. Under Stuart Pearce bargain buys such as Vassell, Corradi did little to help City’s flagging firepower. Despite the infamous bust-up with Ousmane Dabo, Barton’s heroics on the final day of the season preserved City’ premier league status. The fact that Barton resisted the lure of Middlesbrough in the same season proved his loyalty to the citizens.
His time with Newcastle has also seen some ups and downs, most notably when Alan Shearer was manager, but for the past two seasons his game has proven on and off the pitch that he is a changed man. No longer is he is interested in making suggestive remarks to Torres or punching Morten Gamst Pedersen but has instead become a lynchpin for the side. This has been further underlined by the fact Alan Pardrew has had to concede that his team would be subsequently ‘weaker’ without him.
The fact many columnists have said that Barton’s future should not be with a champion’s league club simply because he is not ‘world class’ adds much insult. When players such as Kleberson, Jeffers have graced the football’s greatest club stage then Barton would surely do a much better job.
A final thought on whether Barton should be viewed as hero or a villain, would be that yes his aggression of the pitch has been nothing short of deplorable and inexcusable. But as a player he represents the spirit of old, at the present should he really be the subject of abuse and no protection from referees? And is he wrong to question the clubs commitment when 3 of the clubs top players have been sold for a combined fee of £45 million with only £8 million of which has been spent this summer. Whatever the opinion is, Barton will always be the focus of attention be it rightly or wrongly.
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