Why Joey Barton Should Be Begging Leeds United to Sign Him – by Rob Atkinson

Barton doing what Barton does

Joey Barton doing what Joey Barton does

Mixed messages have been emerging from Elland Road over the past few days, leading up to and since the capture of Brentford winger Stuart Dallas. We’ve been told that Dallas is likely to be the end of any significant incoming business for Leeds United; but we’ve also heard from Adam Pearson that il Duce Massimo Cellino is prepared to sanction one, or possibly two more signings. This has naturally set tongues wagging and keyboards rattling as the Whites cognoscenti speculate on who else might yet arrive down LS11 way.

One name that refuses to go away is that of perennial bad boy Joey Barton, formally of QPR, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Olympique de Marseille and, for all we know, Borstal FC. Barton has had what might charitably be termed a troubled past. He’s proved himself on many an occasion not to be above a little thuggery, in much the same way that the sea is not above the clouds. Without doubt, he’s courted controversy and a certain measure of revulsion in those who believe that the beautiful game should be played beautifully or not at all. But there’s more to Barton than mindless violence and, undeniably, he’s a class above the vast majority of Championship midfielders in terms of pure football ability.

The pros and cons of Joey Barton are sharply delineated – he’s almost all black and white with very few shades of grey. On the negative side is the lack of discipline that has seen him on a porridge diet in his time, with several occasions on which he’s been bang to rights when put to trial by TV. Then again, Duncan Ferguson never let a spell in Barlinnie prevent him from becoming a legend in the game – something that, for all his notoriety, Barton has thus far signally failed to accomplish.

Still on the negative side, there’s Barton’s accustomed wage level. His habitual demands would see him fit into the Leeds United wage structure much as a quart fits into a pint pot. So, on the face of it, both his “attitude problem” (for want of a better phrase), and his affordability would seem to mitigate against him as a likely target for Yorkshire’s top club. But neither of these factors should necessarily prevent Barton from turning out in a Leeds United shirt.

The thing is, Joey is 32 now, with a senior career and earnings history going back 13 years. He will not be short of a bob or two – neither, surely, is he completely incapable of learning by experience when it comes to curbing that nasty temper. And on the plus side – the lad can play, far better than most of the opposition he’d meet in this league.

Looking for similar examples of players who might normally be expected to be both too expensive and too risky discipline-wise, the name of El Hadji Diouf springs irresistibly to mind. Diouf was the least likely of Elland Road recruits, having been a top-earner and a serial practitioner of some of football’s nastier tricks. But he duly came to Leeds, accepted relative peanuts in remuneration, cleaned up his act enough for his manager Warnock publicly to regret having compared him unfavourably to a sewer rat – and he made a moderate success of things in a team consisting mainly of players several classes of ability below him. Whether that’s enough of a precedent for us to be optimistic of seeing Barton in a Leeds United shirt is open to some doubt. But there’s one man who should be moving heaven and earth to make this happen – and that man is Joey Barton himself.

The fact of the matter is that Barton has possibly one shot left at writing himself indelibly into the pages of football history. He may or may not care about doing this – but any footballer worth his salt wants, ideally, to be regarded as a legend. And that, even today, is the opportunity afforded to the right calibre of player by Leeds United FC. After well over a decade in the shadows, and having plumbed hitherto unheard-of depths by sinking as low as the third tier, Leeds remains a giant of the game. The Elland Road club is, in fact, the last giant ever born – clubs have come to the fore since United did in the sixties, but not to such devastating effect and not for so long; certainly not to attain the rank of a footballing behemoth, as Leeds did from nowhere under the legendary, incomparable Don Revie.

In the late eighties and early nineties, Leeds United conferred legend status on characters as diametrically different from each other as Vinnie Jones and Gordon Strachan. That’s what being instrumental in revival and success for Leeds does for a player. And that’s what it could do, even at this late stage, for Joey Barton. As his career draws to a close, as he contemplates life after football and his descent into obscurity, that’s something that Mr. Barton should be thinking about extremely seriously. You’re a long time retired, after all.

It may well be that very nearly all of the Leeds transfer business is complete, after all. And if we do recruit more bodies, they’d more than likely be cover out wide and in central defence. But the need is still there for some versatile, commanding presence in midfield, too. And, sadly, the Vinnies and the Strachans are precious thin on the ground these days.

If Joey Barton had the sense he was born with – another conundrum not easily answered – he’d be prepared to walk barefoot over broken glass to Elland Road, there humbly to seek audience of Messrs. Cellino and Pearson (and maybe the physio team too, after miles barefoot over broken glass). He should be literally begging for the chance to play for Leeds, for his last shot at legend status. He should be promising to clean up his act and to become a role model for the youngsters and a hero to the fans. He should do all of this for the return of a reasonable pay-to-play deal, as befits an extremely wealthy man who has naught to lose, much to make up for – and a lasting reputation in football to gain.

Joey Barton – do you want to be a legend? Come to Leeds United, then… and, if you play your cards right, we might just arrange it for you.

11 responses to “Why Joey Barton Should Be Begging Leeds United to Sign Him – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Shut up with your drivel. Oh look no one is interested

    *Editor’s note: “James”, or whatever his real name might be, is this blog’s most persistent troll. He reads everything I write, and hates every word of it. Lacking a life, or a significant other, all he can do is send vicious comments, which I invariably bin.

    On this occasion, I was busy watching England maul the Aussies, so I was late moderating comments. It seems “James” assumed there were none, and got all excited. So I published his contribution, just for once, simply to demonstrate what an arse he is. It’s back in the cupboard for him now, though.

    If that seems harsh, well – it’s just how cowardly pests are treated in these parts. “James” IS a coward, for he can’t be challenged over his comments because his contact details are fake. That’s typical of trolls – they like to dish it, but get faint and sick at the idea of anyone fronting them up and having a go. So they slither around incognito, sending out their poison even when ignored. God only knows what they get out of it.

    Back in the box now, “James”. You’ll not be heard from again on here and – like your dismal little band of predecessors, you’ll eventually give up and go back to train-spotting or whatever.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. True he could become a legend here bobby collins springs to mind but can he curb that temper? In front of a passionate crowd? Let alone his wages. Also playing alongside talented but impressionable kids they could pick up on his failings on the pitch. And could rosler handle him? I personally would welcome him here at leeds if he could do a vinny and leave the nasty side of his game in London. He’s the type of player who would enjoy being here. MOT


  3. I agree……….. it all comes down to money though ??? I guess there is the chance that Cellino wouldn’t touch a player in his 30s and also id be half cut over Adeyimi versus Barton scenario

    But yes in principal all the ingredients are there for Barton to become a cult legend at Leeds United

    Also in Bartons defence, hes opinionated and to be fair on many occasions he does have a point. I especially enjoyed his cameo on question time


  4. I totally agree with you Rob, about Joey Barton. Signing him could be the huge difference for Leeds getting automatic promotion, rather than reaching the lottery of the Play-Offs or even mid-table.
    Bartons wages would definitely be the sticking point, but a pay-to-play deal, is a very good idea.
    The Leeds midfield is very young and needs an old head like Barton to drive them and also to anchor the midfield, even if it’s just for one season, like Vinnie Jones did.
    What Vinnie did 26 years ago, was to take all of the pressurised, media attention, onto his broad shoulders and by doing that he gave Strachan and the rest of the team, the chance just to get on with the football on the pitch, with a little help from Vinnie, as well.
    Barton and Leeds are made for each other, because of the “we all hate Leeds” and “nobody likes us” rubbish, that Leeds have to put up with every season.


  5. David Dean

    Is there any chance of JB reading this? You have sold me hook line and sinker. What a pitch. Get him signed up Rob. You should be working for that megalomaniac and help Pearson keep the ship afloat.


  6. Couldn’t agree more Rob

    I don’t think it will happen as the money talks but if there was a headline to make the adrenaline pump it would be Barton for Leeds.He is a winner with attitude.


  7. Kev McGarrigle

    but to remove the “temper” as some of the comments have stated would be removing the persona that makes the guy tick, he retaliates rather than creates the mayhem, he is up front with anything he does, it’s the devious ones in the game that would be a detriment to our junior players, remember Robbie Savage, that is the devious type I would frown upon


  8. Met Barton when he was doing his coaching badge in Belfast 2yrs ago ,I was repairing a burst water main in the college was
    soaking wet and covered in mud,was winding him up and said why don’t you play for us he said you can’t afford me jokingly.
    Later I was having lunch in canteen and he saw us and came over he told us what he was doing and why ,he was an absolute gentleman no airs and graces , I think he would shine at Leeds and the kids would benefit ,if we can get him it could be the final piece in the jig saw, also met David Healy and mail Taylor who both kept telling me how big a club we are. But I knew that already.


  9. Mr Rearguard

    Joey Barton must come to Leeds United because that club above no other will transform him into a famous movie star!


  10. Most of us remember the time when vinnie rode into town and the affect that had on the fans and the team ,, if joey barton could have half that effect then Mr C sign him on


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