From once being touted as one of our academy’s brightest prospects, it would now seem that some very immature and idiotic actions on his own part have all but destroyed his relationship with the Geordie Nation. However, at the risk of being scorned, I must admit to finding some of the criticism he receives a little bewildering.
It goes without saying that I do not condone the actions of Ranger, as we all know he has been a very silly boy. Yet, in my opinion, it seems only right that he is shown the same support which was given to former NUFC bad boy Joey Barton, who I seem to remember spent 77 days in jail while on our books.
Undoubtedly, Barton brought more to the table in terms of ability, but is that alone a good enough reason for us to have overlooked his past if we are now to scrutinise the behaviour of young Nile?
In defence of my case, I have constructed two lists using mainly Wikipedia as my source. The first shows all of Joey Barton’s previous bad behaviour, and the second Nile Ranger’s;
- Sparked a ten-man brawl in a friendly match against Doncaster Rovers on 25 July 2004 after “hacking” at an opposition player.
- In December 2004 Joey stubbed out a lit cigar in Manchester City youth player Jamie Tandy’s eye.
- In the summer of 2005, Barton was sent home from Manchester City’s pre-season tournament in Thailand after assaulting a 15-year-old Everton supporter. Barton had to be restrained from attacking the boy further by teammate Richard Dunne.
- On 30 September 2006, Barton exposed his backside to Everton fans, following Manchester City’s injury-time equaliser in a game at Goodison Park.
- Barton was arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage after an alleged argument with a taxi driver in Liverpool while going to his hotel after a match on 13 March 2007.
- Sentenced to six months’ imprisonment on 20 May 2008 for common assault and affray after an incident in Liverpool City Centre. CCTV showed Barton punching a man twenty times, causing him to lose consciousness, and attacking a teenager, breaking some of his teeth.
- Given a four month suspended sentence plus 200 hours community service and ordered to pay £3,000 compensation on 1 July 2008 after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm on former teammate Ousmane Dabo during a training ground dispute. Barton was fined £100,000 and suspended by City until the end of the 2006–07. Dabo said that he had been hit several times, and had to go to hospital after suffering injuries to his head, including a suspected detached retina. Barton was also charged with violent conduct by the FA. He pleaded guilty and on 1 September 2008 was banned for six games with a further six game ban suspended for two years and fined £25,000.
- In his first appearance in over three months on 3 May 2009, Barton was sent off late in a 3–0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield for a sliding challenge on Xabi Alonso. On 5 May, Newcastle United announced the suspension of Barton indefinitely, and Barton was told to stay away from the club. The suspension was widely reportedly to have resulted not directly from the red card, but from a dressing room confrontation with then manager Alan Shearer and assistant manager Iain Dowie following the game. Shearer said he made a mistake putting Barton back into the team, and that his tackle was “a coward’s tackle”, to which Barton replied that he was “the best player at the club”, and Shearer had to play him. Shearer said that Barton wasn’t, that he was “shit”. Barton replied that Shearer was “a shit manager with shit tactics”. When Dowie intervened, Barton called him “a prick”.
- On 10 November, in a 2–1 defeat to Blackburn, Barton again acted violently, punching Morten Gamst Pedersen in the chest. He was not punished during the game as the officials did not see the incident, but after reviewing the evidence,the FA again charged Barton with violent conduct.
- Barton courted controversy once again during Newcastle’s 3–1 win over Liverpool on 11 December 2010, when he appeared to direct homophobic remarks and a lewd gesture at Fernando Torres
- While playing for Southampton he was sentenced to 11 weeks in a Young Offender’s Institute for his part in an armed street robbery in Muswell Hill. He returned to Southampton after completing his sentence, but was eventually released as a player with a bad reputation. He was offered terms by Swindon Town after a successful trial before Newcastle snapped him up.
- Nile was pictured holding a gun in May 2011, however, Newcastle announced shortly after this that it was a replica firearm, which is not illegal to own.
- On 27 August 2011 he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a man in Newcastle city centre leaving the victim unconscious in the street.
- In October 2011 he was charged with being drunk and disorderly in Newcastle’s Cathedral Square.
Now, having scanned through the past of both men, wouldn’t you all agree that we are either being over critical of Nile Ranger’s actions, or we were wrong to ever back Joey Barton in the first place?