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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Congratulations to Birmingham, Preston North End, Sheff Utd, Burnley & Reading; damnation for Joey Barton

Additional to the congratulations to Wolves for their clinching of promotion and the Championship title, the English Football League Championship has finished and further congratulations go to Birmingham on reaching the automatic-promotion packed 2nd place with an away win at Reading. That defeat meant Reading, Sheff Utd, Burnley and Preston North End will all battle in the play-offs for the coveted third avenue to promotion to the proverbial 'big league'.

Is there a favourite of anyone's to emerge at the end? I personally would like either Burnley or PNE. Nothing against Sheff Utd nor Reading, but neither of the other two teams have been in the Premiership. But a favourite for who I think will go through is Reading. It will be a tight battle as we've seen Burnley grab a few Premiership scalps and can produce good attacking football and so can Reading. I think PNE will have to battle deep to get through and Sheff Utd likewise.

Now for the commiserations. Former Premiership teams Norwich City, Southampton and Charlton Athletic have gone down further into League One. I find it being something else to link League One with those teams, they seemed better than to be dropping leagues. They were, to me, definite Championship material and then questionable Premiership quality, not questionable Championship material and then poor enough to drop into League One.

Four seasons back, Norwich was in the Premiership, doesn't seem that long ago. They relegated alongside Southampton that season. Charlton's fall was as recent as two seasons ago. The likes of Jeremy Goss, Robert Fleck, Steve Bruce; Darren Huckerby, Gary Doherty, Leon McKenzie of Norwich. Mick Channon, Matt Le Tissier, Alan Shearer; Theo Walcott, David Prutton, Brett Ormerod for Southampton. Clive Mendonca, John Robinson, Scott Parker; Darren Ambrose, Richard Rufus, Darren Bent. Seems a shame.

My last note is on Joey Barton. What is it that needs to happen for this young man to actually wise up? Newcastle United, one from rock bottom in the Premier League, go off to face Liverpool, at Anfield, a team who are biting at the bits in chasing Man Utd for the title, therefore are fevering for three points, have lost only twice in the league thus far, who thrashed Newcastle at St James' Park 1-5. Alan Shearer is in control and chooses Barton to spearhead the assist behind Mark Viduka as the lone striker, with Peter Lovenkrands and Obafemi Martin either side of Barton on the flanks. A 4-2-3-1, ambitious but a potential to thwart Liverpool's efforts and aid the away side.

That's the plan. But it crumbles with two Liverpool goals in the first half. Not the end of the world, bring the players in, maybe change one or two positions, maybe not, maybe encourage one or two players, a draw could be obtained if nothing else, but fundamental to that is focus. No silly tackles, giving the ball away, needless dangerous free-kicks, keep it simple, keep it safe, keep it firm. And what does Joey Barton do? It's what he didn't do. With Newcastle under attack and the ball going wide with Xabi Alonso following it, Barton just needs to shadow the Spaniard, keep him away from supplying towards goal or passing back to a team-mate.

Here's what Barton did do. He runs up and leaps into a 'tackle', with almost two feet and contacts Alonso on the ankle. A sore injury results to Alonso, thankfully, while Barton pleads innocencebut is straight red-carded nonetheless. Absolute reckless 'challenge', Newcastle a man down, a manager's hopes (which were probably slightly cracked at half-time) just obliterated. Not only that but Barton, looked on as the kind of central attacking midfielder with grit that Shearer needed for the remaining games, is now banned for those remaining games. The one player shouldn't make a difference but you never know.

Those remaining games at home to Middlesbrough and Fulham and lastly away at Villa Park, are pivotal. Middlesbrough cannot seem to score for life, which almost matches the current qualities of their North-East rivals. Fulham, despite now smarting from a Chelsea defeat, still harbour good qualities and intentions for that now all-important seventh spot for Europe. Not to mention Aston Villa, who crucially picked up three points last night to cement their European spot for next season.

Now it is stated that Barton and Shearer came to in the dressing room over Barton's red card, and the player is not only suspended from further games, and out for the rest of the season, but is now suspended from the club "until further notice". Notice that I think he won't be getting from the club. Shearer may move on afterwards but he has some influence at SJP. Would you deny a player like Barton from playing under your management or do you think you can put up with the threat of him behaving in the manner that has him disciplined more by the authorities than actually playing?

I argued for Barton on his return to Newcastle from prison while others consider him too dangerous a threat to any club while playing. I thought prison would curb him, hopefully push him to channel his aggression in the right manner, he could return to football and show us the better side of him. Maybe I was wrong.



Anonymous GunnerPete said...

I agree Redsman, but what worried me more was the media, all their attention was focused on the ex jailbird Barton and not on the near career ending tackle on Alonso. As a Gunner We are still suffering from a dirty tackle on Eduardo (just look at his record in the few games he has played since) God knows where AFC would have been if he had been around during those five 0-0 draws??

Anyway...this sort of thuggish behaviour towards top players must be punished by all. Barton is a player of some talent by little brain sadly. He could have been a big star but his single brain cell could not cope with the resposibility. I am just glad that Alonso has not been lost to football.

As for the Geordies..well they need more than a miracle dont they. As a fan for 58 years I remember the Milburn & Harvey days when players just came off a local production line. Soon everone wanted them...and Newcastle were always ready to cash in, hence the shocking record since the 50's.

It will strange to hear a Gunner say this but I would like to see them go back to a local production line. I feel that Keagan was responsible for (a) ramping up the expectations and (b) for throwing it all away. His buying of foreign players was terrible and his lack of judgement at a crucial time when 12 point ahead of Manure caused the gradual downfall of a once great club. Yes Newcastle were sliding year on year but they were never worried about the drop....I hope they survive but for how long?

5/05/2009 7:07 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Up The Blues!! thank you very much. Barton's a bomb waiting to explode and then he can't play anymore. One brain cell is being polite, two planks short of a 2x4 is better cos he needs a clip round the ear and a bollocking. Newcastle are going down and he's looking to get out to Wolves or Stoke who will buy him cheap, the lousy shite.

5/05/2009 8:13 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will you Gunners fan's please stop bleating on about Taylors tackle on Eduardo. I support neither team but feel sorry for the lad Taylor - I think he just mis-timed it.

5/06/2009 4:01 am

Blogger T said...

A very enjoyable commentary Redsman, and some names from past seasons bought back memories.

I'd like to add Ruel Fox, Chris Sutton, Mark Bowen, Ian Culverhouse, Bryan Gunn, Ian Crook and Norwich beating Bayern Munich in Germany. Or how about Benali, Dodd, Glenn Cockerill, Tim Flowers, Ken Monkou, Marian Pahars, Neal Heaney et al striving successfully at the Dell to maintain their top league status. And the amazing work of Alan Curbishley to place and keep Charlton's premier league status. It is indeed a notable shame that three clubs of recent and solid Premier League tenure are now in the old division three.

As for Barton, I feel like he is a liability to himself - and that is a situation that no one can like to see. Hopefully he can transform himself truly and put away the nasty instincts which he struggles to deal with- he has the capacity to do it.

5/06/2009 6:35 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thanks to GunnerPete for his comment and the anons.

Those names from T, Ken Monkou, Ruel Fox, Cockerill, a roll call of names past. Another Southampton favourite was Stuart Ripley, was almost their Ashley Young. Benali, and then you mention Jason Dodd. One game I remember of southampton was when they were 0-3 down against Liverpool and drew at the end. Frustrating but admirable at the same time.

We had tough games with Norwich, and with Charlton I remember losing 3-2 at The Valley to a Kevin Lisbie hat-trick! Also remember losing 0-1 to Charlton with their left-back, Chris Powell, alleged to have been heard laughing about our Champions League ambitions afterwards.


5/06/2009 9:25 pm


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