Why Joey Barton will be worth the hassle
Joey 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?
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."