Dear, oh dear. Joey Barton's in trouble again! From the BBC:
The court was told that CCTV operators tracked Mr Barton and a group of his friends in Church Street at 0530 GMT on Thursday.
A confrontation was said to have taken place in a McDonald's restaurant.
The player, of Widnes, Cheshire, was outside when an unknown man made a gesture towards him.
Gwyn Lewis, defending, said he was the victim of a "great deal of provocation" and was being "goaded" in the street.
When will he ever learn? I've grown oddly fond of his miscreant behaviour over the years, because amid the violence and lack of self-control, he'll occasionally say something quite profound.
In 2004, he started a brawl during a friendly pre-season game with minnows Doncaster Rovers. Over christmas of the same year, he started a fight at his own club's Christmas party, where he stubbed out a cigar in a teammate's eye. He punched a 15-year-old in the face while Man City was on tour in Thailand. He fought another teammate during pre-season training sessions in early 2007, detaching Ousmane Dabo's retina. [I would argue that Dabo's injury surely couldn't make him much worse as a player]
Add to that a string of arrests for assault, criminal damage and even an incident where he broke a pedestian's leg while driving his car through Liverpool, and you have a soccer player trying to emulate the likes of PacMan Jones and Elijah Dukes.
That being said, his comments in the wake of England's exit from the 2006 World Cup were spot-on.
"England did nothing in that World Cup, so why were they bringing books out? 'We got beat in the quarter-finals. I played like shit. Here's my book'."
Can't fault brutal honesty like that, even if it comes packaged in his diminutive, trouble-causing frame. Sure, it rubbed the primadonnas of the England squad [I'm looking at you, Lampard] the wrong way, but that's sorely needed from time-to-time.
When it's all said and done, Joey Barton is a square peg in a round world. Misunderstood, and he simply doesn't fit. Let's at least hope the rest of his long and promising career is filled with more quality tidbits like these.