Date: 24th July 2011 at 8:31pm
Written by:
Joey Barton

Is he really good enough for United?

According to this morning’s edition of The Times, Fergie has one last surprise planned for us before window’s end- a signing that would send shockwaves through the footballing universe.

Joey Barton To United: The Case For- In terms of purely footballing ability, signing Joey Barton makes sense. Through all of his troubles, no one has ever questioned Barton’s talent; the midfielder is a fine passer of the ball, and has the grit so commonly associated with players plying their trade in the lower echelons of the Premier League.

Joey Barton is not Paul Scholes, but his signing would represent the partial filling of a void which has been left empty for far longer than two months. Nobody quite like Roy has played for United since the Irishman’s departure in 2005, and not many midfielders share the ex United captain’s mettle- certainly not current number sixteen Michael Carrick (Carrick stated when he first signed for the Red that he “wouldn’t be him (Roy Keane)” an admission which has proved all too true). Yet, Barton possesses ability on the ball that Roy Keane never had- even the most fervent supporters of the former Sunderland manager would have to admit that he was a little lacking in the technical department. Joey Barton would represent a sort of hybrid of Scholes and Keane- tenacious, and fiery like Keane, yet masterful on the ball like Scholes.

The main case against Barton remains his past crimes, but it would be unfair to judge a footballer solely on his activities outside the confines of the pitch; even through his troubles, Barton was a consistent perfomer for Newcastle United. Moreover, the former England international has made an attempt to move on from past sins; giving up drink, and taking a more level headed approach to life in general. At only two million pounds, Barton would would be good value for money, and after all, he couldn’t peform much worse than Darron Gibson.

Joey Barton To United: The Case Against- Following the retirement of Paul Scholes, Fergie entered this window on a mission. Earlier in the summer, he seemed to be on track in his pursuit of a player to fill the creative void, but since then, moves for high profile footballers like Nasri and Sneijder have petered off. A bid for Barton would be like the raising of a white flag by Ferguson, the effective end of a search for more talented players, and a death knell to next year’s Champions League ambitions.

A former player, Barton wouldn’t be welcomed by the Trafford faithful, and his controversial standing in the football world might create divides in what is reportedly a tight knit camp. However, the most obvious reason to steer well clear of Barton is the potential impact he could have on one of United’s wayward talents; naughty boy, Ravel Morrison. At an impressionable young age, Morrison needs to be surrounded by sound role models (a species which United are well stocked in) not players with histories of wrongdoing. Reports coming out this week indicate that Morrison has had yet more trouble with the law- this is certainly not the time to expose him to Joseph Anthony Barton.

Conclusion: Certainly, there are strong cases both for and against the signing of Joey Barton, but personally, I see a move for him as a good idea. It is becoming more and more unlikely that United will shell out for Sneijder or Nasri, so perhaps it is time for Ferguson to cut his losses, and settle for a low profile creator. At only two million pounds, even if Barton flopped the financial aftershock wouldn’t be terrible, and who knows, he might come good. As for Morrison, the situation could go both ways, Barton has tried to turn his life around, and I think that the vast majority of United fans would like to see do the same. Maybe the former man could offer a leg up to a United player very much in need of a change in lifestyle.

Read more by David Yaffe-Bellany at In For The Hat Trick and follow him on Twitter @INFTH