QPR: Is Joey Barton finished?
It seems an absolute age now, but just three short weeks ago we were all digesting the seismic events of the final day of the Premier League season. The biggest story being Manchester City of course, snatching the sweetest of victories from certain defeat against QPR to clinch their first league title for 44 years. It was a breathless day in which football proved yet again what a remarkably ridiculous game it is. It was also a day when Joey Barton may have smashed the final nail into his own coffin.
Barton’s unfathomable decisions to not only elbow Carlos Tevez, but to hack away at Sergio Aguero and lunge at City captain Vincent Kompany, proved to be a crucial factor in QPR’s inability to hold on to their lead, thus wrenching the title from Manchester United’s grasp and handing it to City. That’s why you’re finished Joey, you’ve annoyed the wrong fella this time - Fergie’s not the man to tick off. You may get limitless chances from the FA but you get only one from the real Don of English football and I’m worried that Joey may turn up shortly at the bottom of a canal somewhere.
But what actually leads Joseph A. Barton; footballer, philosopher and amateur wrestler, to repeatedly indulge in these bouts of violence? His list of misdemeanours certainly betray his own view of himself, that of a misunderstood wordsmith. His recent exploits at the Etihad are positively passive when compared to his past transgressions. Who can forget the savage attack on his own teammate while playing for City in 2007 in which he managed to detach the retinas of Ousmane Dabo. Then there was his attack on two men during a night out in Liverpool later the same year; an incident that led to Barton being jailed.
Some will say he’s not the only footballer with a temper; and of course those people would be right. There are many others playing the game that straddle the line of lunacy. You need look no further than Barton’s last act of aggression in the game at City when he squared up to a certain hotheaded Italian. Mario Balotelli can certainly be accused of being a loose cannon but is he capable of the ferocious acts carried out by Barton over the years?
Well unlike Balotelli, who let’s face it, is essentially a clown with slightly less makeup, and whose assorted japes are the acts of an immature manchild; you actually get the feeling that Barton really ‘means it’. There is a sinister glaze behind Barton’s stare that leaves an uneasy feeling and you worry that he feels no genuine remorse for his many wrongdoings.
Barton has also often admitted to being a bit of a firebrand, somebody that struggles to control his anger, as if that excuses his behaviour. We all get angry, of course we do. And in the unforgiving cauldron of top-flight football, that pressure no doubt intensifies to a blistering degree. Got angry, we’ve all done that. Lashed out at the height of an emotional experience. We’ve all done that. Nearly blinded a colleague for no earthly reason. We haven’t all done that; indeed acts like that are usually reserved for hardened criminals and perhaps Phil Mitchell. Anger problems cannot be a viable excuse for such frequent bouts of irrational conduct and it is wrong to attempt to vindicate Barton’s actions by claiming he looses control.
Despite the mounting evidence to the contrary, Joey does genuinely seem to have a brain. You hear him talk, and he tends to come across quite well. He often attempts to counteract his violent persona by embracing a higher level of culture. He claims that his days are spent listening to The Smiths, reading books about Nietzsche and practicing yoga; if anything, this makes it even more alarming that he so often resorts to aggression. He should be the epitome of tranquillity after that lot. Another of football’s hotheads Wayne Rooney, spends his time reading the Daily Star, hanging out with Ricky Hatton and practicing eating, but he is a saint compared to Barton.
I’m sure that if Joey Barton was to read this, he would call me a numpty and quote Jesus or something on his Twitter account. But there comes a time when even he, with his armoury of excuses, must realise that people are not making it up. He has a problem, and despite the many chances that have been handed to him, he is still walking a tightrope. For his multiple acts of violence in the game at City on the final day, Barton was given a hefty fine and more pertinently a 12-game ban. We often hear in football that managers have X amount of games to save their jobs; well Barton now has 12 games to sit out, reflect and consider the person he wants to be. He has 12 games to save his career, to save his reputation, and ultimately to save his soul.
Calling all QPR fans. Do you want Joey Barton to play for your team again? Is he finished at Loftus Road? Are there still teams that would take a gamble on him?Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.