Slowly becoming a dying breed in the English game

Opposition supporters will roundly jeer and abuse certain players for 90 minutes when they visit their ground, but shouldn’t they enjoy watching such characters that cause controversy and bring something very different to English football?

Over the weekend Joey Barton and Mario Balotelli put in brilliant individual performances that served as the catalyst to their clubs historic victories over local rivals. If the players can lead their club’s to results such as this and also entertain the fans both on and off the pitch then surely they deserve the respect of the everyday supporter.

Queens Park Rangers captain Barton is often getting into trouble with his club or the FA over comments he makes on controversial incidents in the Premier League. Using his Twitter account to communicate with fans, it is refreshing to see a player with such honesty and an opinion that is often lacking in modern day football.

Badly timed comments over the state of the backroom staff and the board at Newcastle United were widely thought to be the reason he was sold by the club, but this has failed to stop him expressing his opinion online.

With the commentators and pundits seemingly afraid to express a detailed opinion on controversial incidents; often they just say what they feel people want to hear; Barton is able to let people see the opinion from inside the game.

Manchester City forward Balotelli was the star man as City crushed their rivals Manchester United 6-1 on Sunday, as he continues his fine form in front of goal this season. The Italian striker is more known for his off the field incidents since he moved to England and they seem to be getting more ridiculous.

From being unable to put on a training bib at the Etihad Stadium to throwing darts at the reserve team at the club’s training ground, along with the most recent incident last week in which the striker’s home was set on fire after he was setting off fireworks in his bathroom, nobody can deny Balotelli is a fascinating character.

His celebratory t-shirt wording ‘Why Always Me’ on Sunday again showed his humility towards life and now that a smile is on his face could he become one of the best players that the English game has to offer?

Some have called them mavericks and some have just ignored them altogether but people will always remember the controversial and exciting players such as Paulo Di Canio, Zinedine Zidane and Paul Gascoigne who were fantastic footballers but also extremely interesting people off the pitch.

No doubt that these players will continue to be slated by plenty of football fans but they are making the English game even more appealing and people can’t deny they are interested in what the players will do next. Whether Barton will come out and slate a referee or managerial decision or if Balotelli with set fire to all of his team mates’ cars after training this week, the interesting characters are always welcome in the English game to add something very different.

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