After his recent escapades at Newcastle, Joey Barton has been given a free transfer and a request to execute that transfer forthwith - as soon as this weekend. One of the clubs linked with Mr. Barton is our very own (well, not our own, but you know what I mean) Arsenal. This has brought up a lot of things - bile in some, active disinterest in others, "no way in hell" from many - but what it hasn't brought up, surprisingly, is "would he be a good player for Arsenal?"
I am first and foremost a baseball fan. It's the sport I grew up with, and the sport I know most about. I happen to follow one of only two MLB teams that has never made a World Series appearance, so I have done a lot of "what kind of team would it take to get to the WS"-type thinking over the years.
And over those years, I have come to one conclusion. I want my teams to win things, as much as possible. To do that, I don't care "what kind of player" is on those teams - in a baseball context, if I had a whole team full of Manny Ramirezes,
Joey Albert Belles, AJ Pierzynskis, Carlos Zambranos, and the like, I would be thrilled, because you know what? That team would win. A lot. Which brings me to Joey Barton.
Joey Barton is a tremendously talented soccer player. Joey Barton has, in the past, had anger issues. Some people say that makes him untouchable, but to me, that makes him Roy Keane. Not familiar with Roy Keane? Go do some research. He was the fuel in (and the stoker of) the Manchester United fire for many, many years, and people HATED him with a passion because he didn't suffer fools, gladly or otherwise.
In 2005, Joey Barton underwent anger management therapy, and not just at any old rehab clinic - he went to Sporting Chance, which was founded and run by one Tony Adams. Remember him? Since then, Barton's biggest "problem" has been his outspokenness - and that outspokenness has always been in service of things he thought weren't going right at his team. Put him at a team where things go right 95% of the time, and let him influence the other 5% - can you imagine what would happen in training the day after an Arsenal defensive meltdown with Barton out there? I can, and I like it.
Let's face it. You and I, we are never going to meet professional athletes - they're not going to live in our neighborhood, they're not going to babysit our kids, and we'll never have them over for a Labor Day BBQ. Given that, what do I care if Joey Barton is a complete reprobate off the field, as long as he produces on it? People are always clamoring for players to not be boring drones that talk about "giving 110%" and "taking it one game at a time", and then one shows up and people think "Oh he's not very nice". Barton isn't very nice, but he's driven to succeed - and to me, that makes him a great fit for a team like Arsenal, because they need someone on the pitch in the Adams/Keown/Keane mold, someone that will grab a game by the scruff of the neck and kick it into shape.
The best part about Barton? He's free. Why not take a flier on him? It costs nothing to try, and if it doesn't work, it doesn't cost much to cut your losses - and if it works, it's a great idea. What do you think?
To the poll!