Why Joey Barton will be worth the hassle

By Lee Ryder on Jul 19, 10 01:06 PM

Joey BartonJoey Barton could probably write a book about how much his move to Newcastle United turned pear shaped since arriving from Manchester City three years ago - and it would be a book that would sell like a hot cake.

Since arriving at St James' Park, he's had the lot, he's been to jail, he's ended up in fights at McDonalds, he's had injury agony, rows with managers, suspensions and was almost binned out of Newcastle two years ago on transfer deadline night.

By his own admission he "owes Newcastle United" and is doing everything he can to try to repay the Toon Army.

At the end of last season, perhaps for the first time and albeit in the Championship we began to see Barton turn on a bit of style.

OK, it was against Championship relegation fodder at times but you could tell he was head and shoulders above most in that division.

His free-kick against Peterborough was majestic and he was also full of running in the final few games, with his defence splitting pass against Plymouth also a highlight which allowed Wayne Routledge to bag a memorable goal.

If there was one thing that stood out last season it was the fighting spirit and defiance within the camp at SJP - and Barton was a big part of that.

He'll always have his say, but if he can do his talking on the pitch as well then we're on to a winner.

I'll be honest, when Barton was sent off at Anfield last season, like most Newcastle fans, if I'd been told he'd been given a free transfer I wouldn't have complained.

Yet his attitude since is worthy of much praise.

Rightly or wrongly, I don't buy into the fact that Barton is a "thug" like many people - it's just too easy to pigeon hole somebody in that way, he's been a young lad caught up in fame and the public eye and reacted to it badly.

Do I condone his list of crimes?

Certainly not.

A professional footballer should try at all times to be an example to youngsters.

Well, if you agree with that, then that's exactly what Barton is doing right now, trying to lead by example.

If anything, I see him as a bit of a frustrated genius and if Newcastle can unlock that box to box player that Manchester City had on their hands not that long ago, we've got an excellent footballer on our hands.

Since he arrived at the club three years ago, I dont think I've interviewed a player who comes across as more intellectual.

Unlike, the Michael Owens of the world, Barton LOVES football and has an incredible knowledge of the game.

Believe it or not, he's also a gentleman to boot.

After Carlise, the call for Barton to be interviewed by the national Press was a loud one but as captain he saw it as his responsibility to talk to the fans via the local paper, again something that Michael Owen could not get his head around when on Tyneside with the former England international by far one of the poorest skippers this club has ever had in my humble opinion.

He's had his bad moments but having seen Barton conduct himself in public since his misdemeanors, he appears to have reached a new level of maturity.

This was typified by Chris Hughton's decision to make him captain in the second half at Carlisle.

I've no doubt the usual messageboard maniacs will see this as an easy chance to slag off Barton.

But in the real world, it appears Barton is one of the most popular players at the club.

Don't believe me?

Well who spent 40 minutes signing autographs and getting his photograph with almost 200 fans straight after the game and was last on the team bus at Carlisle?

It was Barton all right and he showed the patience of a saint as he posed for pics and chatted with each and every fan who approached him before he was applauded on to the bus.

In a game dominated by flash Harrys and having witnessed the likes of Beckham, Rooney and a host of other big names simply snub the people who pay their wages, certainly Barton's care for attention when it comes to the fans is refreshing in the modern game - there isn't enough of it about.

He told me on Saturday that all he wants now is an injury free run to show the Toon public what type of player he really is.

Let's hope he gets his wish.

For some reason the majority of Newcastle have not turned on Barton despite his red card at Anfield playing a small part in our relegation last season.

One respected follower of Newcastle said to me recently: "I just love Joey effin Barton me".

When I asked why, his response was: "Coz he's one of us."

It's certainly a different opinion on Barton to the player who was branded a thug by the same national media who wanted to talk to him after Carlisle, but if Chris Hughton can continue his miracle work and coax Barton back into the player he was at Man City, in his own words it will be very much like a "new signing."


Nick said:

I love Joey me. I'm a City fan and he was, and always will be one of my all-time favourite City players. Gave his all, and avery handy player to boot. More than did his part in keeping us up for a couple of seasons, and in my opinion would not have looked out of place in our midfield even post-takeover.

Best of luck to him and the Toon this season.

kevin said:

The re-emergence of Joey Barton, is like a new signing only a couple of years ago he was an England International. With the likes of Vukic and Taylor coming back from injury I think we can shock a few of the 'London Press' who love to see us fail. I can see a mid-table finish next season which may have seemed disastrous a few years ago but I think it would be a job well done now.

Ozmag said:

Seeing as his salary has nearly cost us 3 million and we havent seen his top form plus the impact on the clubs image, I dont think we have anything like value for money

toongoneagain said:

lee; i can see you're trying to help write the slate clean for him but i have to say he is a thug. never-the-less all he has to do to change that is act like the millionaire footballer he is, stay out of trouble and play football to the best of his ability. maybe CH should make him captian but then again that might be a slap in the face for Nolan or one or 2 others. i do think CH needs to have a word with him every game before he runs out onto the grass about keeping hiself in check, until it becomes second nature. guess we'll just have to see where he is at? start him as a sub for a few games, bring him back slowly. good luck to him, hes a wasted talent when hes not kicking a ball.

Terry Tibbs said:

I don't really care what he does off the pitch I'm only interested in what he's done on it for NUFC & lets be honest he's done nowt! I don't care how good he was at MCFC I just want to know when he's going to show he's worth the money NUFC paid for him because he's been a disaster as far as our club is concerned.
To pick out highlights in games against the likes of Posh & Plymoth sums up what type of impact he's made at SJP & yes I know he's had injuries but the majority of the time he's been unavailable has been down to Barton himself.
Like I said at the start all this he's a thug/not a thug doesn't interest me at all & if he starts doing it on the pitch I'll be delighted & back him but going on his past record with NUFC, I won't hold my breath.

DormAnt said:

Joey Barton in the Rawshank Redemption by courtesy of Blue Moon productions.

The trailer has been dire, the full movie, when it comes out can only be an improvement on what has gone before, one would hope.

This lad has been in and out of the last chance saloon so often they have had the bat-wing doors removed to save on the cost of replacing them with monotonous regularity.

To conclude. Talk to the right people and seek their opinion on the behavioural traits displayed by creative psychopaths.

I care very much about who represents Newcastle United on the field of play. I also know and understand that no one (myself included) is by any means perfect.

Like the man said, "to thine own self be true."

Mal said:

I just wish he would keep his mouth shut. It's great if he is trying to improve his public profile and build a relationship with the fans but his latest interview destroys all of that and just makes him and the the club a laughing stock (again). Tomorrows papers will be full of it - why doesn't he just for once do his talking on the pitch and let others judge whether he's good enough for an international recall.

Nathan said:

I saw him at Newmarket races and he conducted himself like a true gent, I hear him talking to connections of one of his horses and he came accross as a very bright, intelligent and funny bloke. Perhaps he has turned the corner, who knows but everyone can change and I don't believe the saying about bloody leopards and spots! Compare his behaviour that day to another pro footballer (Keiron Dyer) who was racing you would have been amazed. Come on Joey, stay fit, stay out of trouble and keep us in the Premier League. Only one Joey Barton.

Stuart Sanderson said:

Good blog here Lee, totally agree with you on this. Eversince Barton got into big trouble i kept defending him. The abuse he was getting, was quite frankly uncalled for. Yes he made massive errors, he let many people down but you have to let the guy make amends for his mistakes.

I said it on many occasions, when 100% fit he is easily our best centre midfielder, his performances towards the end were a cut above the rest and i see no reason why he can't perform in the Premier League, so i ask the question, Why can't Joey Barton play for England? I bet he would of shown more passion than the shower Capello took to South Africa!

Whilst Joey has made vows to be a better person and a player, the fans have to give him a break and start supporting him otherwise what's the point? Andy Carroll looks to of went down the same road as Barton, yet he still gets backed by the fans.. doesn't make sense does it!

It wouldn't surprise me if Barton ends up being our top performer and i for one hope he does. Good luck !

bob harvey said:

I've been backing Joey barton since he came out of prison. I know it's taking a long time, but I still think he'll do the business before it's too late. He's a good tackler, good passer, hard worker and intelligent player. I know he talks a lot, but so do most of them given the chance.

al... said:

I believe if Barton manages to get at least 30 games this season, he will be one of the best players in the premier league. I got a feeling he will be on top this season...just hope he stays injury-free.

Rob Dowling said:

every newcastle player must prove themselves this season on the pitch. last season is over, done and dusted, closed ,finished. each player starts with a clean slate. all they have to do is keep themselves fit,and focussed, and if CH puts them in the team, give 100% and be able to hold their heads up after each game, win,lose,or draw and say i gave everything for Newcastle United Football Club. Joey Barton will be in this category because in his own words he OWES us, and, like him or loath him, he said those words on more than one occasion and i think he means it. Come on Joey do your talking on the pitch make it impossible for CH to drop you. Good Luck to NUFC.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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