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The Return Of Joey Barton: One Touch And 3 Minutes Of Controversy

joey barton kevin keegan The Return Of Joey Barton: One Touch And 3 Minutes Of ControversyJoey Barton is never far from controversy and such was the case today when the Newcastle midfielder returned to professional football. In his game today for Newcastle, he only touched the ball once during the three minutes he played.

In those three minutes, he commited a controversial tackle, showed little respect, was purposefully tripped by an Arsenal midfielder resulting in a yellow card and banged into Arsenal’s top striker.

Here’s exactly what happened during his return to English football today:

  • 88:41: Joey Barton comes on for Jonas Gutierrez.
  • 88:51: Barton pressures Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas. The Arsenal midfielder passes the ball across the pitch.
  • 89:28: Barton touches the ball for the first time when he goes in for a 50/50 ball against Samri Nasri and knocks the ball into touch. Nasri is knocked to the turf from the challenge. Arsenal fans boo Barton.
  • 89:31: Barton stares down Nasri and makes a sarcastic smile.
  • 89:42: After watching a replay of the tackle in slow motion, TWI commentator Steve Banyard comments on Barton’s tackle by saying “That’s not the way to endear himself back.” “Not at all,” chimed co-commentator Gary O’Reilly. Banyard continued, “And a smile, a sarcastic smile like that, is frankly out of order.” O’Reilly replies, “Oh well.” Banyard adds, “The big campaign of the summer has been respect and Barton showed little of it there.”
  • 90:01: Nasri trips Barton on purpose.
  • 91:01: Gael Clichy nutmegs Barton.
  • 91:14: Barton goes up for a cross in the Newcastle box, misses the ball completely but drives his back into Emmanuel Adebayor, causing the striker to grab his back in pain.
  • 91:21: Nasri receives a yellow card from the earlier trip on Barton.
  • 91:46: After a long kick upfield by Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given, Barton goes up for a 50/50 ball against Gael Clichy but the Arsenal defender gets his head to the ball first and knocks it to William Gallas.
  • 92:08: Full-time whistle blows.
  • Barton walks down the tunnel, but afterwards Kevin Keegan gets into a heated argument with Gallas and Nasri as the Newcastle manager points his finger at Gallas. Newcastle’s assistant manager Terry McDermott steps in to break things up.

The challenge that Barton made to win the ball was within the law of the game, but what I object to is the manner in which he went in for the tackle. By watching the TV replay, it’s obvious that Barton intended to send a message to Nasri by the way that the Newcastle midfielder drove his right arm into Nasri’s thigh when the tackle took place. Barton could have easily won the ball in a cleaner manner by not using his arm.

Keegan’s response regarding to the controversy was this: “Joey came on, got a good tackle in on Nasri. Then the guy sliced him down. That’s what happened and that’s what I saw, which is what I was upset about.”

Yes the tackle was good, but was unnecessarily rough. Nasri didn’t slice Barton down. He tripped him on purpose.

“I know the referee didn’t see it but the linesman did and it should have been a red card,” said Keegan.

Red card? You’re having a laugh.

“It wasn’t a reckless tackle – it was a good tackle.” Except for the right arm that went charging into Nasri, yes.

For once, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s reaction to a controversial incident was spot on. “I was not surprised by the reaction of the fans – I have been involved in the game long enough not to be surprised by anything,” said Wenger. “Nasri clipped Barton and there was a little incident between them, but he was booked and rightly so.”

Barton’s return to football was full of controversy. Let’s hope that Barton gets his head together if he’s to play any more matches for Newcastle United.


About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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