Resisting the temptation to write a ‘humourous’ quip about a beach ball, and how everyone in Liverpool is looking for a young man with a blurred-out face, I have instead decided to share with you my dislike for Premier League (now Championship) ‘bad-boy’ Joey Barton.
The thing is, I don’t actually have a problem with the idea of the ‘bad-boy’ footballer. Players such as Cantona, Ince, Keane, Vieira and co. were always towing the line between what is acceptable on the field, and what is not. And when they occasionally did cross the line, they were punished for it.
However, with the exception of Keane’s horror-tackle on Alf Inge Haaland, Vieira’s penchant for gobbing, and Cantona’s kung-fu kick (which I bloody loved!) these were the guys that set the example for the rest of the team to look up to. They were characters. Hated losing. Their motto appeared to be ‘Win at all costs, and if you get the odd red card along the way, that’s just a sacrifice you have to make’.
Like I said, I’m fine with that. I think the main problem Joey Barton has is that he desperately wants people to respect him in the same way that the aforementioned players were respected, but he appears to have missed the crucial point. Those players were all fantastic footballers first, and ‘hardman’ characters second. Joey Barton just wants to be a hardman.
He isn’t hard though. Earlier I read through all of the incidents that he has been involved in during his career, and they all read like a rap sheet of a scared little boy – stabbing a cigar out in someone’s face at a party, kicking a team-mate in the head in training, attacking a 16 year old boy whilst on tour with Man City, and then viciously attacking another 16 year old boy on a night out in Liverpool.
Add to that his complete disrespect for the majority of authority figures at his various clubs, and basically you have just one aggressive and very nasty overgrown brat. The attack on the Liverpool teenager, that earned him a six month jail sentence, can be seen below. It’s so incredibly mindless, it may as well have been lifted from depressing satellite TV show ‘Booze Britain’.
I don’t buy into the sob stories either, the people that say ‘oh, but he came from a rough council estate in Liverpool’. So did Wayne Rooney. However, Rooney learned very quickly from the advice given to him by his manager that he could channel all that aggression to his boots, and just look where that has got him. Rage channelled into his boots is certainly behind the best goal of his Manchester United career. Barton’s problem is that he just doesn’t want to listen. He’s convinced himself that everyone else is wrong, and he is right. The world is against him, and he’s going to fight it.
It’s pathetic. He’s had the chance that thousands of kids with similar backgrounds would love. An opportunity that can positively change your life, and the lives of everyone else around you. At this point I’d say that he needs to grow up and start smelling reality. However, the reality is that he needed to grow up three years ago. Now, he’s like the boy who cried wolf, no-one believes that he wants to change his ways. He’s made the claim far too many times.
I don’t think anyone out there can argue that Barton needs a big smack around his pea-brained little head. In fact, I’m abandoning the Lee Bowyer Smackablomator this week, and have instead rated his smackability myself. This is for Jamie Tandy, Ousmane Dabo, Dickson Etuhu, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alan Shearer, the two boys he assaulted, and pretty much everyone else he’s attacked or offended in such a heinously cowardly fashion over the years.
Joey Barton. Please take your smacking, and go away. For good.