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Barton for England?

Why The Newcastle Man Should Wear The Three Lions

Posted Jan 20, 2011 by Shaun Edwards

Barton is not short of fight

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’ve supplied more than my share of criticism to the man that is Joseph Anthony Barton.  In the past, he’s demonstrated thuggish, violent behaviour that would demean the local crack den, let alone the Premier League.  He’s been caught in fights, stubbed out cigars in younger player’s eyes, and had yet more fights.  However, I find myself strangely inclinded to agree with his club manager’s claims that he should be featured in the next England squad.

In the summer, the England team clearly demonstrated that they were a bunch of overpaid, over-praised morons who (with the exception of Steven Gerrard and David James) played as if they couldn’t give a monkeys for the World Cup and the fact that they were representing their country.  In order to succeed at the highest level, players need to be passionate and they need to care.  Whatever else he might have bubbling away in that head of is, Joey Barton has never been short on passion.  It’s passion that makes people make stupid mistakes.  People who don’t care don’t start fights for no reason: they don’t see the point.  Misguided as he is, Barton at least understands the principle of fighting his corner.  This isn’t something you can say about the rest of the England side: in that aspect, he’s got more pride than Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney put together.

Want evidence?  His scathing criticism of the under-performing England team from 2006 was remorselessly accurate and was, after all, what everyone else was thinking.  ‘England did nothing in that World Cup, so why were they bringing books out? ‘We got beat in the quarter-finals.  I played like s**t.  Here’s my book.’  Who wants to read that?’  It mirrored the frustration that the whole country felt: a frustration that was magnified even further following the 2010 tournament. 

He reminds me a lot of a slightly less disciplined Roy Keane: furious at anything less than total commitment from anyone around him, and unprepared to take any crap from anybody, whoever they are.  I am not condoning the way he has acted (I‘ve found myself hoping that he is banned for at least a season on a couple of occasions), but if he can channel all that aggression into winning football matches, then he could become that rock at the centre of a new England side: an England side that are prepared to fight until every last drop of life has left them: just like an England side should.

In previous years, he made it apparent that he wouldn’t stand for anything less than giving 100%, sneering at players who openly admit that they couldn’t be bothered.  Fabio Capello could do far worse than integrating that attitude into the England team.

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