Another day and another angle on the Joey Barton situation.
Stuart Pearce has hit out at the 'witch hunt' surrounding Barton, and believes that he is being unfairly targeted following his debut for England last week, which has put him even further in the public eye.
"At the moment, for whatever reason, perhaps because
Joey has made his debut for England last week, there seems to be a bit of a
witch hunt and people are telling me there is a big crime
I do agree with Pearce's comments and think it indicative of the press in this country that looks to 'go after' a target with gusto. And Barton could well be the next figure for them to get after.
Yes, we all know Barton isn't a saint and his off-field antics have been well documented and continue to get dragged up without me needing to go over them once again. On the pitch, Barton is an aggressive player who plays close to the line but I don't think he gets given credit for the changes he has made in his life which (and I don't know him to quantify this) appear to have matured him as a person, and have certainly made him a better, more complete footballer.
As I said in my review of the game, Barton did catch Mendes and I believe it was intentional, but it was no more than a clip of his heel to cause a foul - certainly not a malicious rake or stamp as has been bandied around. The press are seemingly happy to whip up a storm over this given Mendes's history with ourselves and are keen to portray Barton as the villain of the piece.
I don't know if Barton has gestured to Portsmouth fans after the game, but if he did why has there been no video footage showing what he has done? Sky covered the game so dozens of cameras would have been present, and given his involvement with Mendes at least one camera would have been trained on him at the final whistle but no footage has appeared. Remember after the Everton game when Barton dominated Sky's coverage with his mooning antics.
The police of course are duty bound to follow up and investigate a complaint that is made but it seems that people are quick to make complaints, seemingly oblivious to the 'offensive gestures' doled out to opposing players. Watching the game on TV, Barton was subject to a number of offensive gestures when he went over to take a corner - are we now to expect a game to be halted whilst players make a formal complaint to the police regarding fans behaviour?
It is becoming more and more apparant that things are constantly being taken to further extremes, and with football becoming more and more of a high profile sport and with media coverage continuing to grow, they are only to happy to sate the appetite of fans who demand and lap up the drama and controversy that is being provided.