Rich Posted May 5, 2009 Share Posted May 5, 2009 http://timesonline.typepad.com/thegame/2009/05/joey-barton-an-apology.html Joey Barton: an apology In the past, this newspaper, along with many others, may have inadvertently given the impression that Joey Barton should be granted a second chance. Subsequently, we may have acquiesced in the process of allowing him a third, fourth and fifth chance. Unfortunately, memory fails us and we can no longer remember which number of chances Mr Barton has now reached. But we apologise, unreservedly. Furthermore, The Times has previously used quotes in which - to borrow from the Bumper Book of Football Cliches - Mr Barton has “opened his heart” or “bared his soul” regarding his latest indiscretion and we have printed them, albeit in good faith. If we’re being brutally honest, we’ll do it again, because that’s how this business works but, again, we apologise. The truth is that, to a certain degree, we fell for it. Speaking of chances, we’re enamoured with the Sporting Chance clinic, the facility dedicated to helping sportsmen and women deal with addiction, which was founded by Tony Adams, the former England captain, and is run with dignity by Peter Kay (not that one). We have publicised their work with Barton and the work he has put back into it, because we think it has merit. Should we apologise for that? We apologise for listening to a long list of managers at Newcastle United (five at the last count, although it may have changed by the time you read this), babble enthusiastically about Barton’s changed “character”. We held our noses and wrote the story, half convincing ourselves that all these football men must know something we don’t. That there must be more to it than self-interest. We believe in humanity and we believe in redemption and we believe that there are different shades of right and wrong - in spite of Newcastle’s colours, not every issue is black and white - but we have always believed that the most self-destructive club in the country should never have signed it’s most self-destructive footballer. Never mind Barton, how many chances do Newcastle want? We do not apologise for feeling nauseous at the way Newcastle has been utterly mismanaged. Even now, we marvel when we consider the arrogance of successive regimes - a club that has provoked such a widespread collection of corrosive headlines believing it is the appropriate home for Barton. And even last summer, when Barton was imprisoned and Newcastle perched warily on the moral high ground, they botched their attempts to tie him to a contract on reduced terms and then dismiss him. Nor do we apologise for standing squarely alongside Alan Shearer in his attempts to impose some order on a club bereft of leadership. We support his decision to suspend Barton until further notice. We do so because after a lifetime of watching Newcastle and a decade of watching Shearer, we know what he has done for the club. We know that his instincts are sound, that his motivation cannot be questioned. We know that behind the scenes he is laying down a structure and discipline and the most amazing thing about it is not what is being done, but that it needs to be at all. We will accept his mistakes, because they will be honest ones. We will forgive him his inexperience as a manager, because he is one of us. We do not apologise for thinking it is reasonable for professional footballers to report for training on time. To eat together. To spend extra hours on the training pitch or on the treatment table when injured, if it can help their cause against relegation. We do not care one jot if some Newcastle players - the same underachievers and vanity signings who have participated in the club’s demise - do not like it. If fact, we like it if they don’t like it. We believe that Shearer must be given the tools to do the job full-time and long-term, although we do not believe that Mike Ashley can be relied upon to take the correct decision. Cards on the table time. We love Newcastle, just as we love Sunderland and Middlesbrough. And, no, that isn’t a cop out - we’re ferociously proud of the north east, a region often treated with disdain by the rest of the country, that has battled through economic deprivation to reinvent itself and now finds itself battling through deprivation again. We love the people, the geography, the passion. We love the rhythms of Tyneside, the bustle of the city and the fact that its football club infiltrates every aspect of its life. We feel the history pressing in on us; we toast the achievements and reputations of men like Jackie Milburn, Kevin Keegan, Sir Bobby Robson and Shearer and shake our heads. We wonder how long supporters will continue to fill the stands, at St James‘ Park and also at the Stadium of Light and the Riverside Stadium, in the face of so much engrained disillusion. We love football, but we hate it, too. We apologise if this column appears to wallow in misery; it doesn’t, but what else is there? We apologise for looking ahead to next Monday night’s fixture between Newcastle and Middlesbrough and feeling sick at the prospect. We apologise if the mixture of sarcasm and anger on this page, confuses or jars. We apologise if it feels as though there is no theme. Week upon week, there is only one: this has been an apology of a season. Link to post Share on other sites More sharing options...
Create an account or sign in to comment
You need to be a member in order to leave a comment
Create an account
Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!Register a new account
Already have an account? Sign in here.Sign In Now