Goodbye, for a while, to Joey Barton, and good riddance to him for as long as the FA decides to ban him from the English Premier League.
The controversial midfielder for Queens Park Rangers made a mockery of himself and his club in the second half of a 3-2 loss to Premiership champions Manchester City when, within a matter of minutes, he was given a red card for elbowing Carlos Tevez, stuck a knee to Sergio Aguero's backside and nearly headbutted Vincent Kompany.
It was a shameful display, to say the least, for a player who's no stranger to embarrassing conduct.
The former City player, who was handed the captain's armband for QPR upon his arrival from Newcastle United back in August, will be banned for at least four matches on account of this being his second red card of the season. His first came back in early January for an incident involving Norwich City midfielder Bradley Johnson.
His most egregious misconduct, though, came in 2008, when he served 77 days of a six-month prison term for common assault and affray at a McDonald's in Liverpool and was slapped with a four-month suspended sentence for assaulting City teammate Ousmane Dabo during training.
To no one's surprise, that incident effectively cost Barton his stay with the Sky Blues, though the punishment apparently did little to douse his temper, or at least give him reason to restrain it himself.
Joey certainly didn't help himself any in this latest case with his post-match Twitter tirade:
Can do nothing but apologise to the players and the fans. Still don't think its a sending off. Tried to take 1 of their players with me....— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) May 13, 2012
Still not my proudest moment but who gives a f*ck, we are safe..........and that is all that matters.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) May 13, 2012
The head was never gone at any stage, once I'd been sent off, one of our players suggested I should try to take 1 of theirs with me...— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) May 13, 2012
Think a few people are forgetting Tevez started the fracas by throwing a punch to the head...?— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) May 13, 2012
Barton went on to criticize several announcers who spoke disapprovingly of his actions. Surely, the FA will take these public comments into consideration as they determine how harsh a punishment they should mete out to Barton.
As well they should. Barton is a repeat offender, with a reputation for dirty play, who made a fool of himself in the biggest game of what was a glorious "Survival Sunday" in the EPL.
If nothing else, perhaps Sir Alex Ferguson should lodge a complaint of his own with the FA. After all, Barton's sending off granted City a crucial advantage that allowed them to pull out a victory at home and edge Fergie's Manchester United side for the title.
In any case, a 10-match ban Barton would be a fitting way to clamp down on his unseemly extracurriculars and send yet another message to players that cooler heads must prevail—or else.