Or were Kevin Keegan’s hand effectively tied on this one, a bit like Joey Barton’s as he was led down into the cells? Newcastle had a strong case for terminating the player’s contract after a series of shocking convictions, yet The Times reports that the Magpies are giving the midfielder a 53rd chance to redeem himself, he’s obviously just misunderstood.
Barton is currently serving a six-month jail term for assault and affray, although he will walk out of jail and straight into the United squad for their next match of the season by the sounds of it. What a great punishment that will be for the lad.
While some form of club sanction is likely, Keegan insisted yesterday that Barton has a future on Tyneside; given the skinny nature of the first-team pool, pragmatism may be the order of the day. “Joey will be back,” Keegan said. “It’s well documented that he’s had problems, but I knew about those problems at the time I took over.
“We didn’t know what would happen to him, but I told him that as long as he did things right while he was with us and started to rebuild the confidence of everyone around him – which he had to do – I would stick by him. The Joey Barton we had for the last two months of the season was a changed character. I know a lot of people have opinions and you’ve got to respect those, but mine is to give him another chance.”
We’ve heard this before haven’t we? Stuart Pearce and Sam Allardyce have tried to tame Barton in the past, to little effect, but a history of violence doesn’t seem to have halted this player’s career in their tracks, when others have seen theirs ended for much lesser misdemeanours.