It’s hard not to feel for Newcastle United and the Geordie supporters who made the effort to accept Joey Barton as a Newcastle player despite his history of violent behavior.
On the other hand, it would be foolish and naive to sympathise with Barton, regardless of the pressures of living a footballer’s life or the ‘great deal of provocation’ that Barton’s lawyer claims led to this assault.
Here’s a guy who knows – through past experience and his own actions – that he has a serious anger management problem, and that his violent behavior hurts him and others around him. He’s old enough to take responsibility for his actions, and what’s more, to learn from them.
And yet in each instance he has portrayed himself as the victim of ‘provocation’ – whether it was an overseas trip or a training ground scrap or an altercation outside McDonalds. Barton is the victim, even though the other person goes home looking much worse than Barton. Of course there is provocation. But how you choose to respond to it defines your character, and whether you learn from your mistakes or not defines you too.
If this was a regular guy on the street charged with brutal assault, we’d be writing him off as a common thug. Barton clearly isn’t a thug. He has a anger problem. The sad thing is, he hasn’t done enough to fix it.
Read the details of Barton’s trial and sentencing here.