Every team needs a player like Barton

Joey Barton chases down Albion's Tomer Hemed on Saturday. Picture by Angela Brinkhurst

Joey Barton chases down Albion's Tomer Hemed on Saturday. Picture by Angela Brinkhurst

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Despite the last-gasp Burnley equaliser, Saturday’s noon encounter was a classic and an experience and atmosphere that will be replicated next season when the Albion are hopefully contesting with the big boys in the Premier League.

Not quite a 30,000 crowd but still the largest, up to now, attendance of the season were treated to a traditional top-class domestic football encounter.

The armchair fans clearly enjoyed it as well at home, but I’d imagine not as much as the 29,000-or-so in the Amex.

As it turned out, Burnley’s Joey Barton was the difference between the home side getting all three points and, as a result, was subjected to the kind of abuse normally accorded to high-profile defendants being brought to court.

In the heat of the moment, I was incensed by his conduct. He should have been sent off for the stamp on Beram Kayal, but ultimately he did exactly what Burnley boss Sean Dyche sent him out to do.

He was in and around all the major incidents in the game, it could be argued that the Albion were more concerned about him than actually defending in the build-up to Burnley’s first equaliser.

While at the time a 2-2 draw felt almost like a defeat, by the time Tuesday night’s Championship programme had finished, the whole thing was turned on its head. Burnley’s two point haul from both games as opposed to Albion’s four gives the automatic promotion race another twist.

Having got two more points at Birmingham City than I’d originally predicted, I returned to the trusty promotion calculator yesterday morning. Guess what, I’ve still got the Albion going up, and that’s even with a draw at Forest on Monday, live on TV (we’re on the box more than Donald Trump at the moment) and a last day defeat at Middlesbrough.

I know there’s still many twists and turns to come but ultimately it’s now back in our hands. I firmly believe, having tipped Albion for the play-offs at the start of the season, we are destined to go up. Having said that, I did tip Leicester City to get relegated from the Premier League but in my defence I wasn’t the only one to do that!

If and when the Albion do go up, there will be an influx of potentially Premier League quality players arriving at the Amex.

One arrival I’d welcome? Joey Barton, love or loathe him, every football team needs a player like him, he’s a modern day Billy Bremner.

He has grossly underachieved in his career, but still would have something to offer. It would certainly be an interesting signing but if the difference is between staying up or getting relegated, even the most vociferous of Albion fans would eventually accept it.

n Thankfully, with Nick Blackwell out of his coma, British boxing can again move forward, starting with this Saturday’s world heavyweight title fight at the O2 between IBF champion Charles Martin and our very own Antony Joshua.

A number of ‘experts’ have speculated that it may be too early for Joshua. In the grand scheme of things, it’s probably ahead of the time frame his management had, but boxing politics has thrown this opportunity up. ‘Gift horse’ and ‘mouth’ spring to mind.

Sentiment aside, I still think Joshua has it in him to win, so if you fancy a bet, rounds four, five, six or seven by a knock-out.

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