Dear Joey Barton,
It is tempting for an amateur journalist like myself to write about City and United. About the drama, the goals, the handing over of power. It has been a brilliant season. But allow me to dig deeper than that.
Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers are similar clubs. Both have been in the shadow of a local rival (in QPR’s case, more than one local rival) for a number of years. Both have had significant amounts of cash pumped into them. Both have them have had managerial turbulence, and have handled dismissals in a way that has attracted criticism.
Ultimately, however, there is a difference. Rich clubs often struggle to deal with the egos that come with the players they buy. The players are paid staggering amounts, think of themselves as stars, and expect to be the star. When one gets more attention than the others, they understandably sulk. But City have worked out how to handle such egos. Carlos Tevez had his strop (and what a strop it was), but was invited back and made a difference. Likewise Balotelli. Both players have egos the size of ocean liners, but Mancini (and Kompany) have prevented them from rocking the boat to the point of capsizing.
QPR, alas, are still working out how best to manage the baffling case of one ego too many. With their nautical home strip of blue and white stripes, they could be mistaken for pirates, such is the way they have marauded around the choppy waters of the relegation zone. And if QPR are pirates, then Joey, you are Long John Silver. Intelligent, manipulative, witty and a violent criminal who gives no quarter. Regardless of whether or not Tevez provoked you, the modern game does not stand for retaliation. Until you understand that, you shouldn’t be playing.
Granted, you’re not the only man who has considered himself to be above the law at QPR. Adel Taraabt stormed out of Craven Cottage at half-time after being substituted during a 6-0 thrashing by Fulham. Djibril Cisse, in a match I attended, grabbed Roger Johnson by the throat and then was surprised to see himself given a straight red. One could point to the other red cards picked up this season by Rangers, but in fairness, some (Derry’s for example) were harsher than others.
However, I sense that Taraabt (who scored two vital goals against Arsenal and Spurs in the run-in) and Cisse (who scores much more often than he loses his rag) are now playing for the team and are starting to learn from their mistakes. You, on the other hand, are a coward who has offended before and, left to your own devices, will offend again. You were sent off against Norwich in January in controversial circumstances and you are clearly unable of letting that go. The fact that you admitted to kneeing Aguero with a clear head simply makes it worse.
This isn’t boxing, Joey (and I fear I may be twisting the knife into boxing’s reputation there: the last thing it needs is Barton trying to take on Haye and Chisora at Upton Park). You may log on to Twitter and speak your mind, but you will have to answer for those acts of needless violence. One wins at football by putting the ball in the net, not by leaving several City players on the deck. And quite frankly, on the basis of this game and comeback against Liverpool, your team wins at football after you and and your ego are thrown off the pitch, not when they’re having to carry you.
Don’t believe me, Joey? Look at City. Look at Newcastle. Have they done better since you left, or worse? Newcastle’s transformation is nothing short of astounding, and I’ll bet having one ego less in the dressing room helped. Pardew looks a thousand times happier even when his team’s lost 2-0 to City. I wonder why.
A ten-match ban? Make it a season. We’re all better off without you. You’ve only scored two goals for Rangers, neither of which were vital, and even when you’re not being violent, you’re not much of a captain. Clint Hill and Anton Ferdinand would be much better candidates: the latter has handled the John Terry incident remarkably well. If Terry had even looked at you in the wrong way, I imagine he would have suffered more than cracked ribs.
Never mind the fact that you could have got QPR relegated. Never mind the fact that your sense of self-worth has a complete stranglehold on what you say and do. Stay off that football pitch for at least six months, and watch as QPR’s talented individuals become a team to contend with, free of their so-called captain. I recommend selling the Big Issue outside Loftus Road in the meantime. It’s not football, but neither is kicking someone from behind.
(As I was writing this, Barton has since apologised to “everyone offended by it”. So, that’s everyone then, Joey. Still, it’s a start.)
Edit: Now I think about it, Barton scored three goals for QPR. Apologies, I was forgetting the one against Wolves. But three is not an impressive return for a midfielder and none of them turned out to be vital goals. Taraabt only scored two, but those strikes secured four precious points. There’s the difference.