Despite telling everyone "it's only Twitter, it's not the real world, go out and meet friends," Joey Barton has nevertheless continued to Tweet. With over 1,500,000 followers, he can certainly feel wanted by doing so. And he has tweeted some interesting stuff of late.
His stand-out Tweet in the wake of the Euros was his contention that Michael Owen
was "the best player England has ever produced." He admits that this is "up for debate" but insists that "in them early yrs, he was simply unplayable." He further justifies his opinion with the words: "if he didn't pick up those injuries when he did, I don't think we'd be debating this."
He continues: "[He was unplayable] until his hammy blew up for the first time at Leeds in 99... wasn't as explosive after that... still scored bucket loads after." He adds: "Gazza, Shearer, Fowler, Scholes etc, all top, top players but I can't think of one who made us think he could win the World Cup alone." At least that will act as considerable encouragement for a man currently without a club and refusing to drop down to the Championship despite offers.
One wonders, in fact, what is Barton's view about Owen's contempt for the Championship given he dropped down to that level with Newcastle himself in 2009-10. Don't want to pique him now.
In other Tweets, Barton himself expresses contempt for players of yore, saying: "The further you look into the past, the worse players get. The game has evolved, u cannot compare old players as they physically wouldn't be able to compete." According to him, "the top players in the last few decades are bigger, faster, technically more gifted than ever." And then the topper: "Messi
is the best that's played the game. Streets ahead of Maradona!"
Recognizing his addiction with provoking hostile debate, Barton quotes 60's group The Animals in pleading for forgiveness: "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord please don't make me be misunderstood." He also identifies with Andy Murray saying that he likes him "because nobody else likes him." Whether Murray would warm to that comment, or greet it with a forehand to the face, remains to be seen. Barton did watch him live though.