What now for Barton and Newcastle?

by Martin Lindsay

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

There was a sense of inevitability on Monday afternoon when Joey Barton revealed he would be making an announcement on his future later that afternoon.

Two days prior there wasn’t a worry for Newcastle fans. Most speculation on Barton’s future had blown over and the midfielder was performing well in pre-season. However at Newcastle United we all know things don’t just fade into the background.

Barton’s critical Tweets of the club following their 3-2 defeat away to Leeds on Sunday caught the attention of every football fan across the country. A series of posts from Newcastle’s number seven provided clear evidence of the severe amount of discontent present behind the scenes at St James’ Park.

On Newcastle’s return to the Premier League last season Barton was instrumental in pushing the Magpies to top flight safety – eventually finishing 12th. His performances under then boss Chris Hughton were matched after the appointment of Alan Pardew, with his passion, commitment and talent showcased almost weekly. His love for the game was clear, and ever more pleasurable to see given how he has changed his life around.

With one year remaining on his current deal, May 25 2011 brought a great shock to Newcastle fans as it emerged the former Manchester City man would not be offered a new deal. This was the first major indication into the unrest between certain players and the St James’ Park board.

At around 3:45pm on Monday news broke that Barton had been transfer listed, and more surprisingly was available on a free transfer with immediate effect.

Barton has become a fan’s favourite on Tyneside, but he has no one else to blame other than himself for the situation he now finds himself in. As the dust settles some are of the opinion this was his method into forcing a move, if true it looks to have been a successful ploy.

With Barton an avid Twitter user an incident like this was always going to happen. Instead of banning players from social networking, owner Mike Ashley has been patiently waiting to pounce, and pounce he did. It’s no secret Barton and Ashley aren’t admirers of each other, making Barton’s Tweets ever more regrettable as he played straight into the enemy’s hands.

His Twitter updates since indicate he’s relaxed about the situation, including quotes from George Orwell before laughing about the two week’s wage fine he’d received for Sunday’s outburst. Again, not the conduct you would expect from a player who wants to remain under his current employers.

What ever sparked the tirade of Tweets following the Elland Road defeat should have stayed in-house, consequently though the reputation of Newcastle United has again been dragged through the mud. A number of fans believe Barton’s Tweets are positive because it provides them with the ‘truth’, but how ever truthful his comments may be, they have created unwanted headlines.

Following the controversial departure of captain Kevin Nolan earlier this summer it became clear not all was well in the relationship between the St James’ Park boardroom and dressing room. Barton and defender Jose Enrique have both criticised the current regime at the top of the Magpies hierarchy, which led to the pair receiving club fines.

Some are of the argument he has a right to freedom of speech so why not voice his anguish, but if he’s as eager to remain on Tyneside as his Tweets indicate you would go to the board in seek of a resolution. Quite the opposite occurred, leading to the script for the next episode of football’s soap opera being penned.

Barton has again been Tweeting this morning: “Just because ur told to jump, it does not necessarily mean u have to. I may choose to stand perfectly still. It’s my right…just a thought.”

If he wishes to ‘stand still’ then he and Ashley need to sit down man to man if there is to be a positive conclusion to this saga. With one of the biggest personality clashes in Premier League history it seems unlikely, but you never know in football, and that’s what many Toon fans will be holding onto.

Newcastle will have to swiftly move on from this untimely fallout, with the Premier League season starting next weekend with the visit of Arsenal – one of the apparent suitors for Barton’s signature.

The future for Barton remains unclear. Staying on Tyneside will be at a cost of swallowing your pride and negotiating with the men (Ashley and Chairman Derek Llambias) you have been so critical of. If not, there will be plenty of takers for one of English football’s best midfielders and more colourful characters.

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  • Dexylongshot

    I’ll have him and his tache at west ham like a shot, link him back up with his bestest football fwend nolan. Big sam could handle him better than most but would he be prepared to drop down again though like his old team-mate?? I reckon he’ll go everton.

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