Not everyone in football hates Joey Barton - I think he should be playing for England!
You either love or hate Joey Barton – but personally I think the fella is good enough to play for England.
The QPR midfielder has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons again last week following his latest spat with Wolves captain Karl Henry.
And people are once more talking about Joey Barton the troublemaker when they should be raving about Joey Barton the incredible footballer.
He was terrific for my old club at Wolves last week and should have been basking in the glow of a fantastic three points.
He has been given a new start by Neil Warnock and it’s time for him to get rid of Twitter and do his talking on the pitch. If you’ve got a problem with someone then have it out with them face-to-face in private.
Joey was good enough to play for England before and I think he can be good enough to wear the Three Lions shirt again.
But when managers buy players and send them out on to the pitch they are trusting them with their livelihood.
Neil Warnock has put his trust in him by signing him and immediately giving him the captain’s armband.
Now it’s time for Joey to repay that faith and, if he can keep his head down and do the things which make him one of the most talented players in the Premier League, he would be good enough for England. I’d hate him to hang his boots up one day full of regrets.
My dad Bill used to tell me that I had to do everything I could do to be the best I could be.
Attitude was never going to hold me back, but in the end ability did and I was never good enough to play for England.
It’s the other way around with Joey. He should be in every England squad that’s named on ability, but he isn’t because at the moment he can’t be trusted.
I know for a fact that Arsene Wenger was looking to take him to Arsenal when Newcastle said he could leave.
That could have been a great signing for both parties because he is just what Arsenal need at the moment.
He would have brought a lot of belief to the dressing room at the Emirates, but in the end Arsene probably felt that he just couldn’t trust him.
Barton is a product of a tough upbringing in Liverpool. That’s not to excuse the violent behaviour that ended with him doing a stretch in prison.
But I think we’ve got to give him some credit for the way he has gone about seeking professional help to exorcise the personal demons that have made him football’s Public Enemy No.1. I’ve met him a couple of times and he was a really nice bloke.
But I also know someone who is close to him and I am told that the lad thinks the whole world is against him.
For me, that explains a lot.
Joey is a fighter who will come out swinging if he is backed into a corner. That’s just how he is. But it also means that opposition teams will look to wind him up – and that’s something that the really top footballers just deal with.
If Joey plays at the top of his game right the way through the season then he would keep QPR up on his own.
He could be the best signing of the season.
It might not be popular to say this but ‘Joey, I like you son. In fact, there’s an awful lot of people in football who want you to do well.’
Talking of Joey Barton, I was manager of Plymouth when he once dropped his shorts to the fans at Everton when he played for Manchester City.
Everyone I spoke to thought it was hilarious, but needless to say he found himself in trouble with the stuffed blazers at the FA who have all had a sense of humour bypass.
There was nothing rude in Joey’s gesture. It was just a bit of fun at the expense of supporters who had been giving him grief. In fact, I remember he gave his shirt to a disabled fan that day.
So the following week at Plymouth I sewed a fake plastic backside into two pairs of shorts – one white bum, the other brown.
Any player who had trained poorly or had a shocker of a game had to wear the shorts the following day. I suppose it was a way of giving them the bum’s rush!
The lads loved it. I’d love to see Joey get that kind of humour in his game – but without landing himself in trouble with the FA.