Does Joey Barton deserve another chance?

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles    

After Joey Barton’s dismissal for a reckless lunge on Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso, Alan Shearer declared that the hot-headed midfielder would not play for Newcastle United again, after he had let the club down.

His tackle on Alonso was undoubtedly unacceptable. However in Newcastle United’s current plight, I would have thought that Shearer would have wanted battling players, like Barton, to help his beloved ‘Toon’ stay in the top flight. Rumours of a war of words between Shearer and Barton may explain Shearer’s decision.

Of course, Barton has a checkered past. Not least on the pitch but off it too. He has been convicted twice on charges of violence. In May 2008 he was sentenced to six months imprisonment for common assault and affray during an incident outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Liverpool’s City Centre. He served 77 days of this prison term, being released on 28 July 2008.

He once again clashed with the law after a training ground incident. He was charged with causing ‘grievous bodily harm’ to team mate Ousmane Dabo. He received a suspended four month sentence which put an end to his Manchester City career.

“England did nothing in that World Cup, so why were they bringing books out? ‘We got beat in the quarter-finals. I played like sh*t. Here’s my book.’

“Who wants to read that?”

Yet he has proven his footballing talent over the years. In his first full season with Manchester City he won the ‘Young Player of the Year’ award, voted for by the fans. His tenacious performances in central midfield also won him two England under-21 caps.

He did cause controversy in 2004, when he stubbed out a lit cigar in a fellow players eye. City fined him £60,000 for his actions. He participated in the ‘Sporting Chance Clinic’. His behaviour improved as a result.

Barton is not one afraid to voice his opinions. In 2007, he openly criticised the England team after their failure at the World Cup in 2006. His statement came weeks before his call-up to the squad.

“England did nothing in that World Cup, so why were they bringing books out?

“‘We got beat in the quarter-finals. I played like sh*t. Here’s my book.’ Who wants to read that?”

His impressive form had earned him the call-up. He was ever present in the side for the 06-07 season, but he once again got himself in hot water with his club when he described the players signed by the then manager, Stuart Pierce, as ‘substandard’. He was subsequently banned from speaking to the media.

After the incident involving Dabo, Barton moved to Newcastle, but his time at the club has been marred by injuries, bans and jail sentences. Shearer drafted Barton in for the Liverpool game, his first appearance in 2009.

But after his sending off and a dressing room spat with Shearer and assistant, Iain Dowie, his Newcastle Untied career seems to be well and truly over. Rumours of a dressing room spat involving Shearer and Barton seem to spell the end of Barton’s time with the ‘Toon’. Shearer said:

“I thought it was the correct decision and we now miss him for the rest of the season, so I’m not happy.

“He’s let himself down, and let the football club down, without a doubt. He has apologised, but he wasn’t unlucky – it was the right decision, the ref got it spot-on.”

When asked would he discipline Barton, Shearer commented: “I’ll do what we can.”

It has since been announced that Newcastle were suspending Barton indefinitely, and he has been told to stay away from the club.

It remains to be seen whether any other clubs be willing to take him on, considering all the baggage he brings with him. The question is, should football finally turn its back on Joey Barton?

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