Yesterday evening the Football Association announced that they had bought ‘violent conduct’ about Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton (or ‘37542’ as he was briefly referred to as for a short stretch back in mid-2008) for the sly jab he delivered to Blackburn winger Morten Gamst Pedersen when the two sides met in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
Shortly afterward, Barton released a statement in which he acknowledged and accepted the FA’s charges (he will now be banned for three-games) as well as offering an apology to all and sundry for his latest lapse of decorum:
“I would like to apologise to [Newcastle manager] Chris Hughton, my team-mates, our fans and of course to Morten Gamst Pedersen and Blackburn.
I fully accept that I was in the wrong on this occasion and accept the charge that the Football Association have brought against me. I hold my hands up, I reacted badly to the situation on Wednesday night and I deeply regret it.
I have been working very hard to keep that side of my game under control and I think it has showed in the way I have been able to get on and enjoy my football this season.”
Such an admission of guilt may be just enough to absolve the usual protagonist in the nation’s collective consciousness or, at the very least serve to temper the furore.
However, coming from a repetitively odious little swine with Barton’s previous, it’s considerably harder to swallow.
Barton has a well-documented history of on and off-field problems, which range from the petty and vindictive right the way through to the brazen acts of unyielding violence that saw him initially threatened with (his ‘frenzied’ training-ground attack on Ousmane Dabo), and then sent to (thrashing the living daylights out of a teenager in Liverpool city centre) prison.
The common theme running throughout all of his various misdemeanours? An innate inability to regulate and curtail his predominant aggressive tendencies – a lapse trait to which Barton has openly admitted in today’s Daily Mail:
“Everyone knows I have anger issues and on the pitch people are going to test my temperament. I realise that.
People ask me, ‘Have you not changed?’ and I say, ‘No, this is me, I have this aggression in me and I’m trying to handle it’.
I’m not a changed man because it’s who I am. It’s something inside me, a natural instinct that makes me stand and fight. I just continue to work at it.
I’ll always be fighting to curb it and it’s a battle for me. I have these anger issues but I know that when it turns to rage, like it did against Blackburn, it is not acceptable.
It was a moment of stupidity from me. I shouldn’t have reacted like that even if I was slightly provoked. I can’t condone it and I deserve a ban. I am human but I have made a mistake I regret.”
Many are pleading that Barton’s admission of his failings display a laudable bravery although, with a rap sheet as risible as his, would there be anything tangible to gain in claiming otherwise?
His enforced three-game sabbatical will give him just enough time out of the limelight to get his halo re-buffed, after which we’ll see a couple of months of chest-swellingly concerted effort not to rise to any potentially incendiary bait – then one flailing elbow/fist/forehead will put Barton right back at square one again. Mark my words.
Regardless of his obvious footballing talents or his attempts to veil his ‘natural instincts toward aggression’ (his words, not mine), Barton is a contemptible little shite and needs to be continually called up as such for as long as he continues to froth and thrash his way through his professional life.
And if the will to do so renders me as some kind of atavistic Luddite, then I’m 100% fine with it.