First of all I love footballers that wear their heart on their sleeve and I agree with 95% of this article (press here to view).
The Premier League does need its characters or it’ll turn into the Bundesliga. Where would Cricket be without Freddie or KP? However, for the first time I feel a need to put up my counter argument against this article, by a writer I admire & who gave me my first break in writing about our beloved sport. I felt the need to write this as a tweet in response wasn’t enough, and I don’t like posting long winded comments, especially when I’ve got my own platform at Sweet FA!
It seems to me that to the neutral (in this case a MU fan) the Joey Barton vs half the Man City team situation was very entertaining. It was to me too, as a Chelsea fan that doesn’t like him, even before he joined Rangers. Whilst reading the arguments put forward by my learned friend, I couldn’t help thinking about how selective memory reminded me of Cantona, and his methods of not being dull. Making the game exciting or not, it should be for right reasons, not just because they’re controversial and playing up to being the ‘bad boy’ (it is possible: Le Tiss for instance was a joy to watch. As was Beardsley, Hazard, Aguero, Luiz when on a run, Zola). Cantona had a good balance, in time people will only remember one red card, but remember his genius. In my opinion Joey has too many ‘exciting’ situations that are just for the wrong reasons – more for stupidity than for brilliance. I think many of Joey’s tweets about art etc are his way of saying ‘look how clever & cultured I am’. Yes he’s intellectual and can appreciate art, but doesn’t seem to have actual conversations with others on these subjects, just the odd quote to act arty. Yes there’s this other side to him, but who cares? I don’t see the art world welcoming him in with open arms. The majority of his normal everyday tweets are good to see, showing the life of a footballer. This side of him I can appreciate. The bad boy image is probably one he would like to shake off but doesn’t really care. Balotelli also has a bad boy image, but his most popular / public antics don’t generally hurt anyone and are hilarious (painting his car, paying for peoples petrol etc). Yes he has spats with his manager which must worry City fans. I know as a Chelsea fan I’m still getting used to my club being in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. We’re European Champions and yet we’ve barely been able to enjoy it due to off the field issues. What Joey does distracts from the football he so ardently wants people to talk about.
Behind closed doors.
Frank Lampard has been accused of causing AVB to get the sack, yet Joey has been lauded for being ‘open and honest’ whilst at QPR. In these instances I think Frank was the model pro in fighting to get back into the team. I loved that he wasn’t happy with AVB – I wasn’t (and neither were so many other fans I know) and Frank still didn’t sought out publicity as much as Joey did, he got on with working hard to be ready when called upon. Yes Joey said things at Newcastle that everyone was thinking, but the way he goes about things, all high and mighty, give me the impression he likes dropping a grenade into clubs he supposedly cares about, acting as if he’s a fan and not a player, without thought to the consequences and after effects, of the lasting damage he does to the relationship the fans have with those he lambasts in public. Yes we want players to be open, honest and give us an insight into our club, to wear their heart on their sleeves. No we don’t like the ‘tow party line’ robot responses many players give in interviews, but there is a line that Joey crosses more times than Rio’s pretended to be pally with one of his customers wearing a stupid hat.
We need more Zola’s, Ginola’s, Allardyce, Harry’s, Di Canio’s (the Di Canio that caught the ball vs Everton when an opposition player was injured & the one that scored THAT scissor kick volley, not the other side) and Holloway’s in football. And Less violent, disruptive, arrogant, discriminative players that are in the main only entertaining because they aren’t not playing for our team.
I like having watching time bomb Joey, as I liked watching Eric jump over the advertising boards, but it shouldn’t be applauded (not that I think you’re applauding those scenarios), if they want to be the saviour of the boring footballer, there’s plenty of other ways to go about it.