Joey Barton. Getting good from being bad.
There are plenty of things wrong with football, hundreds in fact, depending on how you look at it, but one particular incident this week has really made me think about the beautiful game.
Just three months ago English football was united in excitement as the Premier League season finished in the most dramatic of ways. On that day, a playground type brawl erupted in the middle of the pitch at the Etihad stadium, as Joey Barton kicked, screamed and head butted his way towards a red card in a decision that could well have cost Manchester City the Premier League trophy.
The actions themselves were not surprising, as Barton comes with years of baggage that includes moaning on twitter and violent outbursts on the pitch.
The midfielder was given a 12-match ban for brawling with Carlos Tevez, kicking Sergio Aguero in the back of the leg, and attempting to head-butt one of the biggest men in the Premier League, Vincent Kompany. Punished and fed up, Barton was cast out at Queens Park Rangers, with manager Mark Hughes stripping the midfielder of the club captaincy and his shirt number without a word of warning.
As a final punishment, Barton was shipped out on loan and deemed surplus to requirements at Loftus Road.
But Barton wasn’t shipped off to Lincoln City, Mansfield Town, or some other non-league club to learn a lesson about what happens when a player acts like a 6-year-old child on a football pitch.
No, the lucky *#@!$*# has ended up in the beautiful south of France at French Ligue 1 club Marseille.
Not only that, but after a surprisingly perfect start to their league campaign, the French giants sit atop the League 1 table with four wins in four and show no sign of slowing down.
Finally, to add insult to injury, we the football viewing public may have to spend our Thursday nights watching Barton play Europa League football in a side that could very easily get through to the quarterfinals of Europe’s second biggest club tournament.
If Queens Park Rangers continue to "punish" their players like this expect Loftus Road to turn into a blood bath of bad challenges, flying elbows, and foul and abusive language towards referees as the rest of the squad look for that dream move to a sun soaked beach and European football, while remaining on the club's hefty wage packages.
Barton said in his first press conference at Marseille that he’s “not in France to make friends,” in a characteristically business like approach to his loan move.
We wonder if his first match oin France in two weeks' time – oh yes, Barton’s 12-match ban isn’t enforceable in France – will be all business, or combustible as ever.