Newcastle United's bad lad Joey Barton is out of prison and back on the field, and at the weekend managed to provoke new copy and controversy by kissing the club badge on his training top as he warmed up in front of Sunderland fans for his return to action. But, writes Louise Taylor, Newcastle's interim manager Joe "Swear-Box" Kinnear has already jumped to the player's defense, making him the latest manager "to fall under the troubled Newcastle United midfielder's peculiar spell."
True, Barton was being showered with missiles and spittle, "but that provocative response suggested that turning teetotal might not have cured his behavioral problems entirely," she writes. Kinnear, though, declared that he was "not worried, I don't see what he did wrong. Ninety percent of footballers kiss their badges at some time. I will probably say to Joey that he can kiss the badge again if he scores a hat trick."
Regardless of Barton's assaults, both in public and on the training ground, as well as his subsequent prison sentences, Kinnear merely sees him as a soccer player who could help save Newcastle from relegation. "I'm not saying what he did was right and Joey would be the first to admit that but, judging him on football, Joey's decent," said Kinnear. "He adds something different to us."
"He's got two good feet, he's a good finisher and is one of the best passers of the ball at the club," Kinnear went on. Kinnear said he is also used to managing "rogue players" because he "had similar players at Wimbledon. These types are characters. I've said to Joey that I know what you are going through. I've been through it a hundred times myself with opposition fans because of the stick that went with Wimbledon and the Crazy Gang and the stigma that went with Vinny Jones and John Fashanu and the like.