Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughDoes Joey Barton deserve to be a footballer? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Does Joey Barton deserve to be a footballer? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Does Joey Barton deserve to be a footballer?

With almost as many off the field misdemeanours as he has scored Premier League goals, Joey Barton certainly tests the patience of most football fans.

A succession of Premier League clubs have tried to iron out the issues of the controversial midfielder, with Manchester City, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers all eventually moving him on, leading him to his current loan stint in France with Marseille.  But does the bad out weight the good with Barton?  Or is he worthy of a career as a top level footballer?

Whilst at Man City, Barton had a series of issues both on and off the pitch.  Including bearing his back side to the Everton crowd at Goodison Park, extinguishing a cigar in the eye of a youth team player and a training ground bust up involving then team mate Ousmane Dabo, resulting in a £100,000 fine, a club suspension and a suspended prison sentence for assault.

Following his move to Newcastle, Barton was unable to keep himself off the front pages.  Following another conviction for assault, Barton was forced to serve the earlier suspended prison sentence.  Upon his release after 77 days, Barton seemed to spend more time suspended from games than he did actually playing in them and it will come as no surprise that he has been shown the red card 7 times in his career to date, with many more suspensions being handed out following retrospective action.

Barton’s behaviour did not improve as he swapped the north of England for London with Queens Park Rangers.  Most notably on the final day of last season, when Barton was eventually banned for 12 games after he tried it seemed to take on the entire Manchester City XI by firstly elbowing Carlos Tevez in the face, then kicking Sergio Aguero, an attempted head butt to City skipper Vincent Kompany and a final altercation with Mario Balotelli.  It is worth noting that you would not normally associate such behaviour as that of the captain of a team battling to stay in the division on the season’s final game.

In contrast, Barton is an exceptionally gifted footballer, he is one of very few modern midfield players with the ability to take a game by the scruff of the neck and dictate the tempo of it single handed.  In a world where midfield players are being labelled as ‘holding’ or ‘attacking’, Barton is one of a dying breed of ‘box to box’ midfielders, by far the most entertaining to watch.

Barton has played his entire career ‘on the edge’, fearless in the tackle and with bundles of energy have meant that although the player has on some occasions overstepped the mark, he is a player that can get the crowd going and prevents the opposition from getting into a rhythm.  Once on the ball, Barton demonstrates an excellent passing range, the ability to carry the ball and to get forward and get goals from midfield.  It is also worth pointing out that Barton is an England international, making his debut as a second half substitute at Old Trafford in a friendly with Denmark.  However, you only have to look at the recent importance that Scott Parker has had to England, a another ‘box to box’ midfielder of the time who also make his debut in that match, as to the effect that Barton’s poor disciplinary record may have had on his International career.

There is a very real argument that as a result of his run ins over the years with the law, the FA and even the Everton fans Barton has used up all of his lives and is not deserving of the privileged career he continues to enjoy.  However, for all of the front page headlines, Joey Barton is still a player many would pay to see.

Aaron Sharp