By Chris Wright
Joey Barton has come a long way. Where once he used to kick out at the world, frothing with bilious, toxic rage; thrashing the living shit out of teenagers outside McDonalds at three in the morning and using people’s aqueous humour to stub out his cigars, now he actively looks at paintings and books, each time memorizing their titles, and wears scarves indoor and out – even on the mildest of days.
Following his little red card wobbly against Manchester City (for which, coincidentally, he is now staring down the barrel of a reported ten – ten – game ban), Barton came in line for a bit of innoucuous criticism from Alan Shearer on Match of the Day.
Shearer’s scathing, vitriolic indictment saw him chastising Barton relentlessly, howling that there was “no need for his actions”, frothing that his conduct was “sheer madness” – and then came the curtain closer, the final act, the silver bullet through the brain in terms of character assassination: “We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again. That’s what you get with Joey. He’s never going to calm down unfortunately.”
Later that eve, MotD host Gary Lineker took the issue of Shearer’s monstrous assault up with Barton on Twitter, to which he replied: “Just don’t like how he gets personal…” (note this down in your copy books, this will be a recurring theme from here on out.)
Still baring his soul on Twitter, Barton continued:
“I really don’t like that prick (Shearer), in fact I honestly despise him…”
“I’d take it off Hansen and @GaryLineker but not from that bell, same fella that stamped on Neil Lennon, then threatened FA if they banned him that he would retire from international football.
“No sorry, not having him, never have. Selfish, boring man him. He can do one…”
Remember how he doesn’t like it when people get personal? Well, here’s a little bit more of our Joey ‘not making it personal’…
Are you beginning to see the irony? If so, note it down in your copybooks.
But still it continued, with Lineker raking over the embers by asking Barton:
“Still raging then? Still kicking out? And still, presumably, misunderstood? But only by yourself I suspect.”
Barton – who, if you recall, doesn’t really like it when people get personal – duly responded thus:
“Do u wanna go there publicly “Mr Squeaky Clean” ? Think u should have a look in that vast closet of skeltons before u respond.”
“I know a lot about THAT side to u the people don’t and won’t bat an eye lid at exposing u. So mind ur manners Squeaky… now back under your stone you odious little toad…”
Aha! What come be more impersonal than blackmail?
You see, for all the posturing and his new, painfully studied intelligentsia veneer, at the centre of the foul Joey Barton fondant will forever be the aggressive, feral, ghoulish hazlenut that caved Ousmane Dabo’s eye socket in.