Let me deviate from the American Soccer format of this blog for a moment to share my thoughts on Joey Barton’s most recent brush with the law. I am as our listeners and readers are keenly aware, a Manchester City die in the wool supporter. I’ve been relegated with the club three times since I began my support and promoted three times as well. I’m use to having sideshows and circus type issues dominate Manchester City. I am happy in many ways that Joey Barton is now Newcastle’s problem and no longer ours. In fact, I advocated his dumping from the club after his incident in a Liverpool Taxi last Spring. However, I must let it be known I have always been and will always be a Joey Barton fan on the Football pitch. He is one of my favorite recent footballers as warped and idiotic as that may sound to the masses. He is someone who always fought for my club as if his life depended on it. The fact that he is in fact a psychopath who should not walk the streets shouldn’t condemn him to the ridicule he has received in the press and from football fans.
Maybe it is my American orientation and upbringing that makes me sympathize with Barton more than I should. Perhaps its my understanding and acceptance that many professional athletes lead very troubled and conflicted lives that gives me a soft spot for him. Barton grew up in a tough neighborhood of Liverpool and he made something of himself the only way he possibly could have- as a footballer.
Barton’s infamy stems from multiple incident- the Cigar incident with Jaime Tandy, the attack on a young Everton fan, the mooning of the Goodison Park crowd, the bust up with Ousmane Dabo, his attack on a taxi cab driver and of course the conviction of his brother for a racially motivated murder. All this time while Barton had off the field troubles he gave his heart, his life and his soul for Manchester City Football Club. without Barton we would have almost certainly been relegated in either 2006 or 2007.
Barton needs help. He needs football fans to stop turning their back on him and ridiculing him. He needs society and the media to stop condemning him and instead try to help him. Barton showed when he testified against his brother and when he on countless occasions did more in the Manchester community than his team mates that he has a heart and deserves to be rehabilitated. When Stuart Pearce ordered Barton into anger management in 2006 his behavior changed and his on the pitch form was never better. Sadly, he backslid, but he cannot be written off. Not for England, not for Newcastle and not for Joey Barton himself. He deserves another chance, but this time with everyone trying to help him and understanding who is and how he can be made into the person he ought to be and is worthy of being.