Captain's blog: Barton needs to choose either Twitter or his career
So English football was dealt some devastating news on Tuesday morning when it was revealed Joey Barton’s move from Queen’s Park Rangers to Marseille had all but fallen through.
It had all looked so promising on Sunday when the former Newcastle United and Manchester City midfielder Tweeted: “Hopefully QPR and Marseille can finalise the deal in the next few days” and “my heart is already in the Velodrome.”
However, for me that has always been Joey Barton’s problem and probably why the move hasn’t gone through.
For some reason he seems intent on putting his every thought on Twitter and it is destroying his career.
I have no doubt those in charge of Marseille value Barton’s footballing talents. He, at his best, is a midfielder who could easily work his way into the England side.
However, it is the baggage that comes with Barton that is too much for clubs to handle.
A lot of the time this trouble sparks from Twitter. Of course Barton used to get into hot water before Twitter for his off-the-field antics.
In 2008, Barton was given a six-month jail term after admitting assault and affray during an incident in Liverpool and he also got into trouble twice at Manchester City for attacking team-mates.
However, it is now his comments on Twitter that are the causing him most problems.
All too often he suffers an unchecked meltdown and with 1.6 million followers it doesn’t go unnoticed by the world’s media. Despite playing well for Newcastle United between 2007 and 2011, the club decided to let him go on a free transfer after he openly criticised the Newcastle board on Twitter.
Then there was the incident with Neil Warnock at QPR.
He had been given the captain’s armband by the experienced manager, but Barton was then accused of getting Warnock the sack by comments he made.
Speaking to the BBC at the time, Warnock said: “People get on the phone and tweet every five or 10 minutes, and it’s almost like slowly poisoning somebody, from outside the club and no doubt from within the club as well. It’s a dangerous precedent if you let players talk to chairmen, but you can’t stop Twitter and things like that.”
These comments then led Barton to hit back at Warnock, of course on Twitter.
It was probably meltdown number fifteen of the season and one that led many football fans to criticise Barton for hitting out at the only boss who would gave him a chance after Newcastle cut him loose.
Further rants came and went, including one aimed at BBC Match of the Day pundits Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker.
The trouble is in the past players could be controlled a lot easier with the comments they made to the media.
Early on in his career Barton was banned from speaking to the press, by Stuart Pearce, when he openly criticised his Manchester City team-mates in April 2007.
However, now players like Barton can say something stupid to a bunch of journalists, without an agent or a representative from club there to say ‘I don’t think this is a good idea’.
And in the end it is the players that suffer. It was last week that South African hooker Brett Sharman left Aviva Premiership side Northampton after a 'racist' tweet he had issued about Team GB’s Olympic hero Mo Farah.
Certainly banning our sports stars from Twitter isn’t the answer. It is good to see the sensible players and fans interacting in a way that was not possible a five years ago.
However, there are certainly some less sensible players like Barton and Sharman who need to ask themselves whether all the followers they have on Twitter is really worth it?
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