It is easy to forget just what a liability and total disgrace Joey Barton was for Newcastle United for all but the shortest of periods whilst he was at St James Park.
Nowhere was his selfish behaviour seen more so than the impact it had on what proved to be Newcastle United’s (first) relegation under Mike Ashley.
Missing the start of that 2008/09 relegation season due to having served a prison sentence after being found guilty of assault, Joey Barton’s further actions simply compounded the problem.
That campaign he only started six Premier League games and was sub in three others, as a potent selfish mixture of prison time, injury, lack of fitness, lack of professionalism and suspension, led to him missing most of the season.
With Joey Barton it is most definitely the case that distance makes the heart grow fonder, as since he left and started to behave a bit, as well as speak fondly of Newcastle United and wind up mackems, it them becomes easier to forget just what a disgrace he was when at Newcastle.
This week sees the release of his much anticipated autobiography, with Joey Barton conveniently provoking all kinds of problems and publicity to coincide with the launch, including getting a three week holiday/suspension from Rangers for him to concentrate on selling a few more copies.
Extracts have been published in advance and today saw a passage seeing the light of day, where Joey Barton relates a tale (read it below) of allegedly losing out on a move to Liverpool and playing alongside Steven Gerrard, due to new manager Rafa Benitez choosing to sign Xabi Alonso rather than Barton.
Joey Barton says how he held a grudge against Alonso and that continued throughout their games against each other, culminating in one particular match on 3 May 2009, Barton saying ‘That gave me the opportunity to fly in and disguise my malicious intent as best as I could’. This a reference to a ridiculous challenge he made on Alonso, a cowardly assault on the Liverpool player from behind that was always going to get a red card, though Joey Barton laughably claims he thought it would be a yellow.
That match saw Liverpool already leading 2-0 before the sending off, Newcastle going on to lose 3-0.
Joey Barton however misses out the most important thing about this match and what damage his selfish actions caused Newcastle.
Memorably, Alan Shearer was absolutely furious with what Joey Barton had done, as were most Newcastle fans.
Newcastle had been crying out for some extra creativity and Joey Barton hadn’t played since a defeat at Manchester City in January 2009, with injury putting the player out of action.
Getting back to full fitness, Shearer put Barton straight in against Liverpool but that was almost certainly simply to get him to match fitness because from some way out it was clear that the final three games would be the ones that would decide Newcastle’s fate one way or another.
That Liverpool game was already decided when Joey Barton did what he did but his selfish and cowardly assault on Alonso meant the Newcastle midfielder was suspended for those final three matches.
Newcastle ending up beating Middlesbrough but losing to both Fulham and Villa, when only a single more point would have meant Newcastle avoiding relegation.
With Barton on the pitch against Fulham and/or Villa, the chances would have undoubtedly improved of that happening.
The conduct of Joey Barton coinciding around the launch of this book, simply reminds us all that there is only one person that matters to Joey Barton and that is who he sees when looking in the mirror each day.
As a footnote, ironic that it was Rafa Benitez who decided not to buy Joey Barton…
Extract from Joey Barton autobiography:
“From what I gathered, Steven Gerrard agitated to get Liverpool to sign me in 2004, because he felt we had the potential to forge a partnership.
“I met with Gerard Houllier at Melwood (Liverpool training ground) and agreed everything verbally.
“A deal was close to being concluded but then he was sacked that summer. It was never revived.
“Xabi (Alonso) and I had history. He blamed me for knocking him out in what he thought was a deliberate clash of heads in one of our earliest contests, and I blamed him for stealing my move to Liverpool.
“All that remained to be agreed with City was the fee, when Rafa Benitez took over from Gerard Houllier.
“I was in Dubai when I was informed that he had instead decided to sign a kid from Real Sociedad who had just broken into the Spanish national team.
“That turned out to be £10.7m well spent. Xabi is one hell of a player, whose passes have a great range and accuracy.
“Whenever we played, I sought to get the game on my terms, which were relentlessly physical.
“(In 2009) Thirteen minutes remained. Liverpool were two up, cruising and playing keep ball. The Kop conducted an incessant, infuriating chant of ‘Ole, ole, ole!’
“Xabi retained the ball near the corner flag fractionally longer than was prudent.
“That gave me the opportunity to fly in and disguise my malicious intent as best as I could. Alonso milked the moment with a barrel roll. I expected a yellow and was shown a red.”