Longest football bans: Joey Barton the latest in a conspicious list

The FA have slapped QPR midfielder Joey Barton with a 12-match ban following the temperamental midfielder’s sending off against Manchester City on the last day of the Premier League season. The Loftus Road captain is the latest in a long line of players to feel the wrath of the authorities; here are the top football bans in recent times.

Joey Barton – 12 matches

After being shown a red card for elbowing Carlos Tevez, Barton was found guilty of trying to knee Sergio Aguero and head-butt Vincent Kompany. These additional two charges of violent conduct, added to the dismissal, have resulted in a 12-match ban for the former Newcastle man, and put his career at the London club at risk.

Eric Cantona – nine months

The mercurial French attacker was given a nine-month worldwide ban from the game in 1995 after his famed kung-fu kick on Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons at Selhurst Park. The Manchester United forward was also ordered to complete 120 hours of community service after the shocking act.

Paolo Di Canio – 11 matches

Fiery Sheffield Wednesday forward Paolo Di Canio was on the sidelines for 11 matches after pushing referee Paul Alcock to the ground in September 1998. After being dismissed in a league fixture against Arsenal, the Italian pushed the official to the deck, and was also handed a £10,000 fine for the act of petulance.

Kevin Keegan and Billy Bremner – ten matches

Keegan and Bremner were both on the sidelines for 10 matches after coming to blows in the 1974 Charity Shield between Liverpool and Leeds. The pair were involved in a fight on the hour mark of the game, and both dismissed.

David Prutton – ten matches

Southampton man David Prutton was given a ten-match ban for shoving referee Alan Wiley after his dismissal against Arsenal in the Premier League in 2005. The Saints midfielder was also handed out a £6,000 fine.

Paul Davis – nine matches

The Arsenal midfielder was given a nine-match ban for punching Glenn Cockerill in October 1998, breaking the Southampton man’s jaw. Davis was sent off and ordered to pay a £3,000 fine by the FA.

Billy Cook – 12 months

The Middlesbrough player was banned for a year in 1915 when he refused to leave the field of play after being sent off against Oldham; the game had to be abandoned with 35 minutes remaining.

Mark Bosnich – seven months

The Australian goalkeeper was banned for seven months after testing positive for cocaine in 2003. Chelsea terminated his contract after the scandal.

Rio Ferdinand – eight months

The Manchester United defender failed to show up for a drugs test and was duly handed an eight match ban in September 2003.

Luis Suarez – eight matches

The Liverpool forward was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in a Premier League clash between the two in October 2011. After a drawn-out investigation the FA handed down an eight-match ban for the Uruguay international and gave him a £40,000 fine.

Edgar Davids and Jaap Stam – four months

The Juventus midfielder and Lazio defender had their bans for testing positive for banned substance nandrolone reduced from five months to four months in May 2001 and January 2002 respectively.

Dean Windass – six matches

The Aberdeen striker was effectively sent off three times in the first-half of a 5-0 defeat to Dundee United in 1997. Windass was dismissed for two bookable offences, abused the referee and ripped out a corner flag in the SPL fixture.

Roy Keane – five weeks

The aggressive Manchester United midfielder was handed a five-week ban in October 2002 for comments made in his autobiography concerning Alfie Inge Haaland. The Irishman was also fined £150,000.

Vinnie Jones – six months

The Wimbledon midfielder and now movie star Jones was handed a six-month ban in November 1992 and fined £20,000 for his comments glorifying football violence.

Ben Thatcher – eight matches

The Manchester City defender was banned for eight matches after a sickening elbow on Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes. The Portuguese midfielder was knocked out cold and suffered a seizure after Thatcher’s challenge in August 2006.

Joey Barton – 12 matches (again)

Barton was given a 12 match ban, later six of which were suspended, for assaulting Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo in training. Barton was charged with assault, given a four-month suspended jail sentence and fined £25,000.

Kolo Toure – six months

The Manchester City central defender was given a six-month suspension for failing a drugs test in March 2011. The Ivory Coast international later claimed that he has taken one of his wife’s diet pills.

Published – Soccerlens

Manchester United, Liverpool and the biggest Premier League losers of 2011-12

Despite a fantastically entertaining season with a raft of Premier League winners this term, it has been a campaign to forget for some teams and individuals. Euro 2012, the Olympics and the summer transfer window are approaching, and for some 2011-12 could not come to an end quick enough. Here are Ninety Minutes Online’s biggest losers of 2011/12.

Liverpool

Despite lifting the Carling Cup with victory over Cardiff, 2011/12 has been the worst campaign for Liverpool for quite some time. The Anfield outfit’s fans expected their side to be challenging for a top four berth, but a eighth place finish, 17 points adrift of Tottenham in fourth, has been a massive disappointment.

From Fenway Sports Group’s ill-fated home-grown transfer policy, to Luis Suarez’s racism ban, defeat in the FA Cup final to embarrassing home defeats to some of the division’s lesser lights, Liverpool fans will want to forget 2011/12.

Andre Villas Boas

After leading Porto to an unbeaten league title and lifting the Europa League in 2010/11, Andre Villas Boas was heralded as the next Jose Mourinho and the man to lead Chelsea back to the summit of the Premier League. However, an at times bullish squad rotation system saw the senior players at the club alienated, the Blues floundering outside of the top four and Villas Boas given Roman Abramovich’s axe.

The £13 million Chelsea paid Porto for AVB’s services was not rewarded, and the young trainer is still out of work after seeing his stock drop in west London.

Wolves

Wolves have been in a fight to stay in the Premier League over the last number of seasons, but Mick McCarthy has led them to survival and commanded the respect of the squad. Steve Morgan’s decision to sack McCarthy, despite a poor run of form, was an ill-sighted one, and the appointment of assistant Terry Connor a disaster.

The Molineux club reportedly interviewed the likes of Alan Curbishley and Steve Bruce for the role, but were reluctant to offer the experienced pair long-term contracts. The appointment of Connor has backfired, with the club finishing bottom with a woeful five wins all season.

Sir Alex Ferguson

2011/12 will be a season to forget for Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. The Old Trafford outfit are known for their will to win and mental toughness at the business end of the season, but the relinquishing of an eight-point lead is sure to give the legendary Scottish manager nightmares for years to come.

A lame Champions League exit in the group stages, a 6-1 hammering from City at Old Trafford and FA Cup elimination to Liverpool have been hard to take for the defending champions’ fans.

Alex McLeish and Aston Villa

Alex McLeish was a shock appointment at Villa Park last summer given his links to rivals Birmingham City, and the club’s supporters have not warmed to the Scot since. A toothless tally of seven wins, weak defending, a lack of creativity and the division’s second-lowest goal tally have had the Villa fans with their heads in their hands.

McLeish’s position as Villa manager must come under scrutiny this summer, but Randy Lerner must also invest in new players if the team are to have a better 2012/13 – Stewart Downing and Ashley Young have simply not been replaced.

Honourable mentions

  • Venkys – With Blackburn relegated this term, Steve Kean has received most of the flack from the media and the club’s fans. However, the Lancashire outfit’s Indian owners Venkys have not given the Scottish coach any funds to spend, and the side are now reportedly in financial trouble.
  • John Terry – Due to stand a court case in July for reportedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, the Chelsea skipper has lost the captaincy of his country and there is a train of thought that Terry may be excluded completely from Euro 2012. Add to this a sending off against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals for petulantly kneeing Alexis Sanchez, and Terry has had better years.
  • Jermain Defoe – The diminutive striker has proved time and again that he can score goals at the top level, but has simply not been given enough time on the pitch this season. Harry Redknapp’s preference for Emmanuel Adebayor and Rafael van der Vaart could cost Defoe a place at Euro 2012.
  • Jack Wilshere – The talented Arsenal midfielder has not seen one minute of action this season, with consecutive knee cruciate injuries keeping him on the sidelines throughout. Wilshere will also miss Euro 2012 due to injury.
  • Joey Barton – Barton is no doubt talented and able when in the correct mindframe, but stupidity, ill-discipline and a terrible attitude have continued to blight his career. A red card against Manchester City on Sunday cost his team the game and his constant abusive and opinionated Twitter comments should see Mark Hughes ditch his troubled ‘captain’ this summer.

Published – Soccerlens

Hughes’ ability to deal with Barton and Taarabt crucial for QPR’s chances of success

QPR have installed Mark Hughes as their new manager after the hasty dismissal of Neil Warnock, and Sparky has a job on his hands to keep the newly promoted side in the Premier League. After a couple of plucky results at the start of the campaign, a run of eight defeats from eleven league games ended Warnock’s tenure at the club, and Rangers are two points above the dropzone at the time of writing. Despite the promise of new faces in January, it may well be Hughes’ handling of controversial characters Joey Barton and Adel Taarabt that will decide QPR’s fate this season.

After Barton joined the Loftus Road outfit in the summer, the temperamental midfielder was quickly given the captain’s armband and asked to lead the team to top-flight safety. The merits of this decision, on paper, are understandable; a home-grown, determined, all-action man that may inspire less experienced team-mates to follow suit. The 29-year-old’s ability has never been in question throughout his career, and the Merseyside-born player has the skill and calibre to compete at the top domestic level. That said, his actions both on and off the field at times are not that of a captain; the controversies that shackled his time at Manchester City and Newcastle have followed him to London.

It is just not Barton indiscipline on the pitch that makes him a detriment to his employers; it is his attitude. Newcastle got rid of Barton due to his constant bickering, negativity, scathing comments on Twitter and the general pattern of going against the grain. Barton’s altercation with Gervinho on the opening day of the season was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the midfield battler duly criticised the Tyneside club’s owners and executives for their foolhardy decision to punt him out.

In Warnock’s last Premier League game in charge before being shown the door, Barton showcased the best and worst of his abilities and character. QPR took a 1-0 lead through a well-worked goal, finished off with a powerful strike by Barton. However, the skipper was then sent off for a supposedly head-butting Bradley Johnson. Although replays show that the dismissal was harsh, a Premier League captain should not be caught in a fracas that could well hurt his team. In this instance it did hurt QPR and their manager, as Norwich went on to win the game 2-1.

Barton’s red card was harsh, and the refusal by the FA to overturn the decision also incorrect. That said, Barton’s reaction was one of a petulant child rather than a professional footballer. Deranged with anger he threatened to sue the FA, the referee, Johnson and anyone else he felt had a part to play in his great injustice. The bottom line is that he should not have put himself, or his team, in that situation in the first place; there is no smoke without fire.

Joey Barton’s baggage greatly outweighs his benefit to the team. Having someone so volatile as your captain is folly, and should Hughes desire an upturn in his team’s attitude and ultimately performances on the pitch he should banish Barton and replace him with someone more dependable and level-headed; with Tony Fernandes’ financial backing this is more than possible.

The second big personality that Hughes will have to deal with is that of Adel Taarabt. The Morocco international is undoubtedly the most technically able member of Hughes’ inherited squad, but also has a penchant for indiscipline. Taarabt’s departure from Craven Cottage at half time in QPR’s 5-0 defeat to Fulham to get a public bus home is an example of the African attacker’s mindset, and he must be brought into line, and quick. However, the playmaker is one of the few match-winners at Hughes’ disposal and has the potential to be an excellent player if correctly managed. Taarabt inspired the side to glory and promotion last season, picking up The Championship Player of the Year Award in the process, but has not played at the same level this term.

Although Taarabt may be finding the going a bit tougher against Premier League opponents, there are a number of reasons for his downturn in form. Ironically Warnock stripped Taarabt of the club captaincy upon Barton’s arrival, which would be demeaning for a normal player, but confidence shattering for someone with an ego as big as the attacking midfielder’s. Secondly, he is playing out of position, largely finding himself on a touchline and with limited space to manoeuvre.

Hughes has already identified his attack as an area of necessary strengthening, and an established front man should be on his wish list, despite the ageing Heidar Helguson’s commendable performances this season. However to get the best from his diamond in the rough, Hughes needs to deploy Taarabt more centrally. Playing the playmaker in a second striker role, similar to how Rafael van der Vaart is used at Tottenham, will get Taarabt on the ball in more critical areas of the pitch, and allow the attacker to play a more dominant role in the game. His ego needs to be fed and he needs to feel loved, but if he is given more of a free reign, he has the ability to salvage QPR’s debut season back in the Premier League.

With five points separating the bottom five teams in the Premier League, it is set to be a bitter fight to stay in the top flight this term. Despite the advantage that Hughes has in terms of investment and potential new faces arriving at Loftus Road, the Welsh manager must get affairs in-house in order first to stand a chance of success.

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