So much for the Respect campaign that has been introduced into English football this season. There have still been plenty of occasions when players have spat their dummy and argued the toss with referees. While the arbiter’s decision is always supposed to be final, there was an incident during the first half of the Newcastle v Aston Villa match which was particularly unsavoury.
No prizes for guessing that Joey Barton was involved, with the Magpies midfielder getting his knickers in a twist after Steve Bennett had the audacity to award a free-kick against him. The convicted criminal then accepted the ref’s decision graciously by having a go at Gabby Agbonlahor, the player who he had fouled, which ended up with Barton pinching the forward on the nose. Sky Sports report that Joey thinks a lot of fuss has been made of nothing.
“I thought it was a foul against me, and I had a hold of the ball,” Barton told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.
“We shook hands after the game and that’s the way it is. It was all about nothing.
“Nothing has gone on, people are making a mountain out of a molehill.
“With the referee, linesmen, the fourth official and all the television cameras, you know you cannot raise your hands these days – and at no stage have I done that.
“I am going home to bed now and I am going to sleep with a clear conscience.”
While people only need half an excuse to slate Barton after a disgraceful series of off-the-pitch incidents, this does seem to have been blown out of proportion somewhat. The Aston Villa forward was giving it plenty of mouth as well as the Newcastle man, although the midfielder is hardly endearing himself to the general public by getting involved in these sort of fracas.