Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Barton's Back With A Bang

Joey Barton announced his arrival back at St. James Park by scoring on his first start since suspension and you’ve got to hand it to him, he’s got some bottle.

The former Manchester City man took part in Newcastle’s second league win of the season as they stumbled to a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.

The second he set foot on the pitch he looked focused on one thing and that was playing football, as soon as Shola Ameobi was sent tumbling in the box, Joey Barton sprinted over and made sure everyone knew he was the only one who’d be taking the penalty.

By no extent did Barton have a golden game, although he was one of the better performers on the night, even the penalty wasn’t a great hit, but a goal is a goal and the relief and passion that he simultaneously released and expressed during his celebration showed that he is ready and raring to do his bit for the club.

His discipline will be questioned on every strong tackle, his attitude will be called in to doubt if he questions the referee and he’ll face torrents of abuse on every away day.

Many would argue he deserves it, I would argue that no one deserves abuse to the level that Barton received at the Stadium of Light but I also realise I’m wearing a very large pair of black and white tinted glasses and that I’d feel very differently if the player was in another team.

I also agree that he has the chance to be a role model not just to kids but to everyone who has taken a wrong turn in their life, if he deals with the jeers and manages to produce on the pitch it will show how a headstrong person can change their own life.

In the same way that Dwain Chambers fought back from the shame of a drugs ban to become Great Britain’s number one sprinter in the build up to the Beijing Olympics.

Despite having a lifetime Olympic ban imposed on him by the British Olympic Committee he trained and achieved the qualification times and that shows commitment to what you love to do.

That is however a big “if”, Barton has had more than a couple of chances, Kevin Keegan’s belief at Manchester City and again at Newcastle is seemingly unfounded after numerous accounts of bad behaviour.

He will however be given the chance by current boss Joe Kinnear as he has little opportunity to be picky over his first team and can’t leave out a player of Barton’s ability with the position Newcastle are in.

He’s on his very, very last chance and he needs to realise this, after admitting many of his problems were alcohol induced he’s now gone straight edge (no drink, drugs or cigarettes) and has been sober for 11 months.

It’s a great first step to show he’s serious but he will have to back it up with a lot more to convince the football world that he is a reformed man.

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