It is fair to say Joey Barton has embraced his move to Marseille. The rebellious little upstart from Merseyside wasn't so much loaned to the French club but unceremoniously kicked out of the country following his outlandish assault on not one, not two, but three Manchester City players in last season's Premier League finale.
But rather than rest on his laurels, the game's most prolific Tweeter has kept the nation updated on his progress across the Channel and his fondness for his surrogate football club. The Marseille Ultras welcomed him to the club with a Smiths-inspired banner reading: “Welcome Sweet and Tender Hooligan.”
Appealing to his cultured brain and his swirling love for Morrissey, Barton repaid the favour in the press conference that followed his Ligue 1 debut this weekend. Following a triumphant 1-0 win over ten-man Lille, Barton embarked on a dialogue only Steve McClaren could appreciate, as he aimed to ease the workload of a room of French journalists. Indeed, he even tweeted on Monday afternoon: “Steve MaClaren eat your heart out.”
Like your father trying to coax a French policeman into some form of leniency, Barton moulded his Scouse accent to something softer on the ears. The Gallic shrugs and liberal use of previously unseen facial expressions all evidenced his determination to be accepted in his new home.
The actual content would usually be forgotten in amongst the faux-French accent, but unsurprisingly Barton took the opportunity to go on the offensive.
He criticises the quality of French football and the manner of the English media, simultaneously ostracising the only two groups of people who know who he is. And if he thinks the English press have been harsh so far, oh Joey, you have no idea what this will do.