Joey Barton is back… TO DESTROY YOU.
Firstly, this Australia trip has thrown my comic writing rhythm all out of whack. News is coming in at weird times, there’s no one to talk to when I go online, I feel like I’m a billion miles away from the pulse of what’s going on. That’s not to say Australia is, but merely my football-following and football-thinking habits are way out off cycle for how you’re meant to do things here.
That said, I think I’ve gotten it sussed. M/W/F comics will resume starting today (err… tomorrow for most people… Friday, dammit).
Perhaps a insufficiently discussed element of the coming season is the return of Newcastle United and, thusly, the return of Him. He goes by many names; The Father of Lies, The Prince of Petulance… um… Super Jerk? But most commonly his mugshot is accompanied by two words that strike fear into all, be they footballer or man minding his own business on the street – Joey Barton.
Barton is a unique player, in that he is raving lunatic. There’s a Duncan Ferguson-esque quality to his presence in the sport where his behaviour to date would render him a multiple felon in the outside world. If he moved to a new city, he should be required to go door-to-door informing parents of his presence in their neighbourhood so that they could hide their children and board up their windows. Even as I type this, I keep looking over my shoulder.
But Barton is a welcome return for one of my ilk, always ready for a good/hilarious/disturbing football story, and he’s already off to the races. When he gets together with fellow mental Nigel de Jong for their first battle, I will be there – popcorn at the ready.
Liverpool have snapped up Cole, meaning that they and Chelsea have basically swapped left sided playmakers who are of similar age when footballers should reach their peak blend of experience and physical maturity. It is curious, though, considering that Yossi is the one who has gone from strength to strength each season and looked a game winner at the top level, while Cole has been on a downward slide through injuries and form. Certainly, he hasn’t looked a consistently top class player since Jose Mourinho gave him the same magic potion he gave Deco at Porto. A twisted concoction that suddenly empowered the dainty playmakers with the strength and workrate to be of use in the modern game.
I do think Hodgson is the right man to turn that ship around, he’ll not be mucking around bringing in endless droves of foreign dross each year only to be replaced by more dross the next, but instead look to secure a solid and probably British core on which to rely. He’s started with Jonjo Shelvey, a weird looking guy who I knew nothing about until FM 2010 was released and informed me that he is apparently the Greatest Younger In The Entire Universe. I await the chance to see if the man matches the legend.