Tuesday 16 January 2018

Banished Barton wages bitter Twitter war on Newcastle after 'inevitable' fine

Robin Scott-Elliot

HE has developed a fondness for Nietzsche, believes British troops should be brought home from Afghanistan, prefers David to Ed Miliband, spent this summer at Wimbledon and Glastonbury and spent yesterday morning training on his own at Darsley Park, Newcastle United's training ground.

Welcome to the world of Joey Barton, the most controversial yet intriguing English footballer of the moment.

Having been made available on a free transfer by Newcastle on Monday, amid claims of another dressing-room outburst, Barton found himself banished from the first-team squad yesterday and fined two weeks' wages -- a sanction he intends to appeal.

Barton (pictured below right) took another thinly veiled swipe at his employers on Twitter yesterday with a provocative quote from author George Orwell, before revealing he had been ordered to train on his own.

"In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act. George Orwell," tweeted Barton.

A few minutes later, he added: "Made to train on my own today, how predictable."

The 28-year-old returned to Twitter later in the day, accusing the club of using the Newcastle 'Evening Chronicle' to try to damage his standing in the eyes of shell-shocked supporters, before making a belated attempt to take the moral high ground.

The 'Chronicle' claimed Barton had had a series of clashes with team-mates last season and had been a disruptive influence for several weeks.

"If the club want to put out all these false statements via the 'Chronicle', then let them do that. Everyone here knows I speak the truth," Barton said.

"I also have too much respect for my team-mates and the fans to get in a tit-for-tat war with them. I have too much self-worth and dignity. Ha ha, the inevitable, two weeks' wages fine has just arrived. Needless to say it shall be appealed forthwith."

That Newcastle are in such a rush to rid themselves of their best player -- they did not win a league game last season in which he was not involved -- sums up the difficulties of dealing with such a peculiar character.

Barton likes to quote Virgil, Nietzsche, Orwell, Aristotle and others via his Twitter account, but it is the old Churchill line about riddles, mysteries and enigmas that perhaps best wraps up the 28-year-old from Huyton, Liverpool, "the son of a roofer and the grandson of a roofer."

He will have no trouble in finding another employer, with Tottenham and Aston Villa leading the hunt for the self-proclaimed best English midfielder in the Premier League.

Wherever he goes, after Manchester City and Newcastle it will be his third club in nine years -- five at City, four at Newcastle -- and by today's standards that is a healthy length of service. But, then, he has departed each amid rancour; again with Barton it is a case of mixed messages.

In 2008, Barton served a jail term for assault. It stemmed from the most serious of a string of incidents, including stubbing a cigar into the eye of a team-mate and having an altercation with a teenage fan on a tour of Asia.

The CCTV pictures shown at the trial were brutal but during the proceedings there were also suggestions that the player was making efforts to change.

Kevin Keegan, who managed him at City, gave a reference -- something he said he would not have done for Barton during his time in charge at City. Keegan was convinced that Barton was making real efforts to become a "responsible individual".

Barton stopped drinking with the help of the Sporting Chance clinic, an organisation that has helped him with anger management issues, too.

When the clinic was short of funds a couple of years ago, he paid for a new minibus.

On the pitch, he remains combustible. Last season, he was banned for punching Morten Gamst Pedersen -- an incident for which he apologised profusely -- and there are those at Newcastle who clearly find him too difficult to handle.

Relations with manager Alan Pardew and Derek Llambias, the club's managing director, have broken down and the post-match eruption following a friendly defeat at Leeds United last Sunday made minds up once and for all at St James' Park.

Newcastle may be relieved to rid themselves of this troublesome dressing-room preacher, but someone will be more than happy to have him, a dynamic midfielder at his peak, whatever the accompanying baggage.

"There's safety in the herd," Barton tweeted this summer, "but never enlightenment or individualism."

Barton has taken to Twitter like few other footballers; he is approaching 200,000 followers and uses social media to express views on an array of subjects, the expected on sport and racing, but also politics, world affairs, books -- he has just finished Naomi Wolf's 'The End of America' -- and philosophy. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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