No stranger to making outspoken comments, either via word of mouth, or making statements over the internet, Joey Barton has once again hit the headlines in controversial fashion. Of late, his weapon of choice has been Twitter, when voicing his dissatisfaction during the summer goings-on at old club Newcastle United, which ultimately led to his departure. But this time it was via the medium of radio, where Barton used a football phone-in show to brand the English national team as an ‘elitist, southern-based club’ that the majority of fans in the country no longer connect to. With a long-list of ‘colourful’ (some disgusting) misdemeanours behind him, many fans have little time for Barton. But this time, does the controversial midfielder have a point? Is Barton merely voicing the opinion of the people?
Far from a deliberate attempt to hit the headlines the QPR midfielder rang up the ‘Absolute Extra’s Rock’n’Roll’ football phone-in show on Saturday evening to simply talk about his team’s 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers. However, the controversy-magnet that is Joey Barton was soon about to hit the headlines again when asked about his chances of securing an England recall by Ian Wright, a former England international who himself, was no stranger headlines during his time as a player.
‘No … I’m not bleating about it, at the end of the day I’m playing for QPR, I’m playing in the Premier League, you know, I’m far from hard done by, but it would have been nice to play for England’ said Barton, before continuing: ‘I’ve played well enough over the last 18 months for them to select me, he’s [Capello’s] chosen not to, so for me I’m planning on going away and playing golf and watching the [European] Championships on TV, and no doubt being massively let down by an England side coming home quite early’.
He finally added: ‘I mean, my massive issue with England, or Team England as it’s now known, is it is now an elitist, southern-based team. I mean, it’s neat to have Wembley, you know, but why should England specifically play there? How can you be passionate about England if you live in Newcastle and you’ve got to travel over 200 miles, or if you live in Carlisle. I mean, they’ve become an elitist, southern-based club, and for me I think your average Englishman really doesn’t care about England anymore.’
Is Barton speaking for the ‘average Englishman’, and do most fans think the national set-up has become ‘elitist’? Of course, this could be just sour grapes coming from a player who feels hard done by. After all, despite his obvious abilities, Barton has only represented his country once during a period of time when numerous other midfielders have been given ample opportunities to shine at the highest level. Maybe he has had somewhat of a raw deal. On the other hand, his highly controversial ways haven’t helped his cause, were at times, he has been literally public enemy number -1.