The Great Debate: Joey Barton, Prison Or Passion?

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IMay 5, 2009

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 03:  Joey Barton of Newcastle United protests after a challenge on Xabi Alonso of Liverpool and is subsequently sent off by Referee Phil Dowd during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield on May 3, 2009 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Joey Barton.

Just his name can stir up debate like few other footballers. He is one of the most controversial players of recent times, perhaps one of the most controversial of all time. Yet a large proportion of that is to do with his actions off the field.

Twice he has been convicted on charges of violence, one of which was on a then teammate of his, Ousmane Dabo.

It is fair to say that his reputation preceeds him, wherever he goes.

Anytime his name is seen on a team-sheet, he is immediately under the scrutiny of the entire viewing public. They are watching him because they know he is a live wire, and can snap at any moment.

All of these issues were raised once again on Sunday when, after Newcastle manager Alan Shearer had put his trust in Barton, the midfielder got himself sent off for a rash tackle on Xabi Alonso.

Did it deserve a red card? Well, as I stated in a previous article, I think a yellow would have sufficed. His left foot got the ball, but the follow-through with his right was unnecessary.

The situation was further excerbated when Alan Shearer described his tackle as "stupid," going on to say that "he deserved to be sent off."

Personally, I don't think this helped the situation. It may have been what Shearer was thinking, but a public dressing down of Barton will do nothing to help the man, it merely serves to humiliate him.

An increasing trend in new, young managers is brutal honesty. Gareth Southgate possesses it, and now it looks like Shearer has adopted this approach as well. However, this honesty only seems to come when they are losing, and have no excuses to give their loyal fans.

Barton must have been in the dressing room thinking that everyone in the world was against him. His reaction clearly stated that he thought it was a fair tackle, as he told a number of players on the way off the field.

However, with the entire capacity of Anfield booing him off, he must have felt lonely and ashamed. For Alan Shearer to add to that misery must have made Barton feel angry, as he would have expected backing from his manager, and upset, as he feels the manager has betrayed him.

It may have been that he, in fact, betrayed the manager. But it is Shearer's job to keep solidarity in the squad, especially when Newcastle are in the peril they find themselves in.

The last thing they need now is a civil war.

It seems that is what they have, however. Barton and Shearer had a disagreement in the changing rooms, and now Barton has been suspended. I can see both men would be unhappy with one another, but a suspension, from the outside, seems harsh.

What is the point? It further humiliates him, while preventing him the opportunity to potentially help the team in the relegation dogfight. He seems like one of the only ones to have any passion in the Newcastle team.

Of course, the civil war won't be a long one. The Newcastle fans may have applauded Barton off the Anfield pitch, but when it comes to a battle with Alan Shearer, there is no doubt where their allegiances will lie.

Which provides Joey Barton with yet another set back.

The man of infinite chances looks like he has run out of them at St. James' Park, and any club will be wary of taking him on.

It seems that, instead of helping him recover from the misdeeds he has done, people want to see him punished further. They would like nothing more than him to fail in what he does.


He has served the time for what he has done and, while that may not excuse his actions in the past, he should be given a fair chance, like everyone else.

He did the crime, he did the time, now move on.

People seem open enough to Lee Hughes playing in the football league, when just five years ago he was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, a crime that makes Joey Barton's assaults look fairly trivial.

I can see the reaction to the argument that Joey Barton should be given the same chance as everyone else being along the lines of "he has had enough chances."

Again, why?

Can someone have enough chances? As I said previously, he has done his time for the crimes he committed, and shouldn't be judged on that anymore. If the red cards count as chances thrown back in the faces of those who gave them to him, then how many chances did the likes of Roy Keane want?

While we're on that subject, Roy Keane's pre-meditated assault on Alf-Inge Haaland was, arguably, as bad as anything Joey Barton has done. Why is it, then, that Keane is lauded as a hero while Barton is a thug?

Had Xabi Alonso made that tackle on Barton, would he have got sent off? I doubt it, certainly no-one would have batted an eyelid.

Had Wayne Rooney made that tackle, he would have been labelled passionate.

When it comes to the treatment of Joey Barton, there is a distinct smell of double standards. His reputation almost always proceeds him, and it isn't fair.

Whenever Joey Barton touched the ball at Anfield, the people sat around me said "he shouldn't even be playing football, he should be in prison."

Why should he be in prison? A regular person wouldn't still be in prison for the crimes Barton committed, so why should he be?

Should he be sacked from his job? A regular person may well be, but it is, ultimately, up to the company. Newcastle chose to stick by him, and that was their choice.

It seems to me that, although he has already served his time, Joey Barton is always going to have a life sentence. He has a reputation, and that is going to be nigh-on impossible to shake off.

Joey Barton: Prison or Passionate? For me, its the latter.


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