When I saw Newcastle United’s lineup today before their 3-0 loss to Liverpool, I said aloud: Joey Barton’s going to get a red card. I only meant it to elicit a laugh from friends, but with Newcastle’s fate in the balance and Barton’s famous temper in mind, I had a vision of Barton heading for the showers a bit earlier than his co-workers.
Some 87 min of play later and Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso was digging the ball out of the corner. Though Alonso had his back to the goal area and his teammates and posed no immediate threat, Barton went to ground, slid behind the ball and took Alonso down hard using both feet. Referee Phil Dowd immediately drew out the red card.
Barton will miss Newcastle’s remaining matches and the club is expected to fine him for his behavior.
This incident is simply the latest in Barton’s history of violent outbursts which includes (but is not limited to): causing a brawl in a pre-season friendly with Doncaster; stubbing a cigar in a teammate’s eye; breaking the leg of a pedestrian while driving; an altercation with a 15-year-old Everton fan in a hotel in Bangkok; two-footed lunge on Bolton’s Abdoulaye Faye; suspected assault and criminal damage in an incident with a taxi driver; suspension by Manchester City for assaulting teammate Ousmane Dabo who ended up in the hospital; kicking Sunderland’s Dickson Etuhu in the groin during the Wear-Tyne derby: assaulting a man and a teen in Liverpool city centre after a night of heavy drinking.
The incident with Dabo was the end to Barton’s career with City. I was surprised when Newcastle United picked him up seemingly quickly. No matter his abilities, after attacking a teammate, Barton should seem more of a liability than a boon to any sensible manager.
The tackle on Etuhu soon followed and then the incident in Liverpool when a drunk Barton punched a man some 20 times in the head and then punched a 16-year-old boy, breaking some of his teeth
The consistency and persistence of Barton’s transgressions show he will never learn to control himself. The unnecessary, violent challenge on Alonso is typical Barton, and if any club is willing to bid for his services this summer (flailing Newcastle are expected to unload him) must know this behavior is an intrinsic part of what they are buying.
It’s hard to imagine who could be excited to take on Barton.
Perhaps one of the promoted sides will allow the value of Barton’s top flight experience and ability to outweigh the risks he brings. (The risks should provide a substantial drop in Newcastle’s asking price.) But the likes of Wolves or Birmingham or whoever sign him will have to start drafting their statement to the press regarding Barton’s next, inevitable, violent outburst.
How many more clubs will allow Barton to repeat this tiresome dance? Newcastle seemed a club too many. The man should be in jail, not on the pitch.
Although, if Vinnie Jones’s trajectory is any indication, Joey Barton may have a future in films.
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