Joey Barton says nobody should get “too carried away” about Diego Costa’s clash with Gareth Barry, which he has described as “nothing serious”.
Costa was dismissed for a second bookable offence six minutes from the end of his side’s 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Goodison Park after an ugly clash with Barry during which he appeared to make a motion to bite the Toffees midfielder before thinking better of it.
Barry has confirmed he was not bitten by Costa, and Barton has urged against an overreaction.
“It’s difficult to get too self-righteous when you’re in my position, but what we have to remember is nobody has died,” the Burnley midfielder told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek’s programme.
“It’s a game of football. You have had two grown men basically square up, no punches have been thrown, nothing serious has happened, both have gone home to their families, one team has lost, one team has won.
“We have to be careful not to get too carried away. We have to remember what makes football football. It’s that kind of thing, it’s goals, it’s playing on the edge, it’s high intensity, it’s high passion. That’s why we do what we do, that’s why we love watching football.”
Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink, who said his player had been “chased” during the game, joked that he and Costa should go together to watch the film “Anger Management” after a catalogue of incidents since his £32million arrival at Stamford Bridge during the summer of 2014.
But Barton says that passion and emotion are vital components of the game.
He said: “I have been involved in numerous incidents, similar if not worse, on a football pitch – tempers get frayed, that’s football. We wouldn’t want players to be walking round cold and calculated and emotionless because we wouldn’t be getting the product that we all love.
“I’m not saying we accept it – there are many things I’ve done which aren’t great for the game and if you could go back and change them, you would.
“But strange things happen to people when they have got adrenaline and emotions coursing through their veins during football matches, during any sport, really. You see lots of instances in sport where it happens because we care.
“I know that’s not an excuse, but I don’t think you want to take the edge off him. If you take the edge off him or players who play like that, it’s very rare that they end up becoming better for it.
“You are better working with what he’s got because the reality of it is Diego Costa is, from time to time, a pantomime villain, but he’s a fantastic footballer.”