Newcastle are stuck with the timebomb that is Joey Barton

By Lee Ryder on Dec 28, 07 11:17 AM

Joey BartonApart from the occasional controversial outburst about playing for England, United's vicious supporters and reflections on mistakes he'd made earlier in his career at Man City, Joey Barton has - by his own standards - had a pretty quiet opening to his career with Newcastle United.

That was until Barton - who is already waiting trial for a training ground incident with a former Man City team-mate - was charged with assault.

It's no good going into exactly what happened at 5.30am in the morning yesterday - when most of us were either tucked up in bed after the dismal defeat of Wigan or the revelers amongst us still burning the midnight oil or tucking into a low standard kebab - because until the latest drama unfolds we can't speculate too much.

Certainly Barton's reputation walks into the room before him and there will be plenty of people with things to say right now.

But Sam Allardyce must be wondering just what he got himself into when he decided that Newcastle United was the next step up the ladder in his managerial career.

Ironically for Big Sam had he been allowed to stick to his original plans for the festive period this would not have happened.

Originally it was widely believed that United would head straight for London from Wigan to stay in a hotel before training for the big clash at Stamford Bridge.

It has also been thought that this idea wasn't to the liking of some of the senior players but because there was a lack of suitable hotels ahead of the Chelsea game, United players headed back to Tyneside to be with their families.

Barton though - who didn't play at Wigan and was said to be OK for Chelsea - was allowed to head to Merseyside to spend time with his family.

Without doubt this is the last thing Big Sam would have wanted after the fans turned nasty again at Wigan after a torrid performance at the JJB Stadium.

Newcastle already seemed to be a club in crisis before all of this erupted but that crisis has suddenly deepened now.

People may ask just why Big Sam signed a player with a poor track record to start with and after a string of ordinary performances so far, nobody can blame them.

Indeed he makes Kieron Dyer or Craig Bellamy look like two kids fighting over a Mars bar.

But on a serious note Newcastle are lumbered with Barton whether they like it or not.

It's thought that Barton earns £64,000 a week and we have contracted him to stay on Tyneside until 2012.

It would cost a bomb to pay him off now and you have to ask who would want a player with such a track record?

Fair enough jailed former WBA striker Lee Hughes has still managed to find a home at Oldham but is only earning peanuts at Boundary Park compared to Wor Joey.

Sadly underneath all of the hysteria that surrounds Barton lies a superb player who is capable of turning games and inspiring the rest of his team to three points.

And he's already stated just how much he wants to lift trophies with Newcastle United.

But United fans have not experienced any of that to date unless you count a last minute penalty against Fulham and the bad run that United find themselves on right now coincided with the return of Barton to fitness after a foot injury.

Great managers have the ability to control such free spirits and turn it into their favour.

If you don't believe me look at Keane and Cantona at Manchester United or Terry Venables with Gazza at Spurs and then you have the Di Canios and John Terrys of the world who have also suffered dark days in their careers.

All of their managers have had to deal with the occasional hiccup and still managed to get the best out of their players somehow.

But is this just an impossible job for anybody?

And the cold facts of the situation for Allardyce right now are that he must sort out both the mess that is happening on the field and then deal with the Barton scenario.

Big Sam said he wanted a challenge at Newcastle - well he's certainly got one now hasn't he?


inky said:

I am sorry Lee - I disagree with your comparison between our Barton and the (truly) free-spirited Keane and Cantona. Those two were players who have never given Sir Alex any problems in their personal lives (although Cantona's faray into acting was very scary). Their behaviour problems on the pitch came from commitment and competitiveness - these guys were winners! How do I wish that our players showed the same spirit on the pitch on match-days...

Ryder's reply: Cantona's attack on a Crystal Palace supporter put the heat on Ferguson and he stuck by him, this happened in full public view of the whole country on TV.

Paul Patterson said:

Your right Lee about the players, who, in the past, have been ‘Problem Players’ the simple fact of the matter is, every (Winning) team, needs them, they add character, arrogance and a certain level of fear for the opposition.

On the other subject, Allardyce, has very little time, but has repeatedly called for more time to get things right, well on the basis of the previous six months, time is just about up, that before we go to Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd and, ahem,- Stoke??

Players arguing before Wigan, not knowing what they are supposed to be doing on the pitch, players playing out of position (Getting a bit sick of that one) no confidence from the manager in his own (£6m) left back, chopping and changing the side, negative tactics, pointless captaincy appointments, an army of backroom staff etc, etc, etc.

The solution here is simple, I never call for managers to be dismissed and share peoples opinions for time and stability, but in this case, I feel the apathy and disconnection between Manager and Supporter has gone past the pale, many didn’t want Allardyce to be appointed and now even more feel that he’s fast becoming a walking joke.

Many have called for a certain ‘Local Hero’ to return, but this would be walking into the lions den with 100 pounds of raw meat strapped to your body, others cry for Keegan, which isn’t going to be a long term appointment (Something in the short term I would support)

God knows who would take the club forward, but at the minute, even standing still would be an improvement.


Ryder's reply: Some good points Paul but I could not publish some of them for legal reasons

billybuck said:

why dont they get off allardyces back he has only been here half a season.we have to give him time to get his team in place .Its everytime we get beat they scream for the managers head .leave him alone let him do his job .or our we going in circles again .Alex ferguson took a couple of seasons to sort out man u.GET OFF HIS BACK.let him build a team in which we can win trophys,all this pressure is loosing time and taking him off the team

James 09 said:

Being a part of Newcastle United - smooth as a cashmere codpiece aye.

Michael Nee said:

Barton was his main summer signing and his man management skills we're his biggest asset

supporter sth tyneside said:

whilst defending BS is not of interest to me i think people should drop the myth of "players out of position". I prefer nzogbia wide left but he has played just as many games at left back under previous managers as he has wide left. Milner is as much a wide left player as he is a wide right player and in fact played many times for Leeds and England under 21's on the left. Smith who I do regard as a forward played many times in mid field for Man. United. All of the above are not the problem with NUFC or BS it is rather the poor work rate and lack of desire that is the problem. The criticism I have with BS is his inability to motivate the players

inky said:

Cantona's kung-fu kick was in public view, but it was a match-day incident; a bit like Dyer and Bowyer exchanging "pleasantries" a couple of years ago: I would never advocate getting rid of either player for that reason alone.
The behaviour of players can be corrected over time (through a kind arm around the shoulder or a stern kick up the back-side, or a bit of both).
I know that a lot of people are going to blame Sam for all this, but it would be unfair: he is not a magician. As a club, we need to take a good look at our recruitment policy - if there is one...

rod gray said:

Managers come and go...

They all get the dosh to buy new players...

They go...

the next manager sells off the duds and buys more.

I've been a supporter since the 1960's

As you say, Kevin and Craig, fighting over a Mars bar. But, they could score the odd goal!

This lot don't seem able to pass a ball for 10 yards without it going to the opposition

And the manager just doesn't seem able to play anybody in the position he is used to playing in

Even (forgive me) Shay has never been the same since that horrendous injury

Bring back Local Hero, a Manager that knows what position his players are good in, and local lads that don't swan off to Africa at critical bits of the season!

Snapper said:

As a supporter of some 50 odd years I have always believed in giving the manager a chance, I thought that Sam's initial signing were good, concentrating on the defence as he did, but I find his "tactics" impossible to fathom. He persists in playing players out of position in formations they are clearly not happy with, 4 4 2 seems the preferred option.
. We are, presumably safe, from relegation, thanks to Derby Sunderland and one other. Milner is quoted this morning of saying "we are the tails of the European challengers, can these players not get it into their heads the simple fact of WE ARE AWFUL.

Keith Talent said:

Keane didn't give Ferguson any problems? Arrests, brawls, countless sending offs,disgracing the captaincy on several occasions, etc the list goes on.

Ryder's reply: Nobody said he didn't give any problems, It pains me to say it but Fergie nursed Keano through each of those problems and he won a hatful of medals - at Newcastle's expense too.

les said:

Big Sams problem is his style of football. He has come to Newcastle with a small club mentality after what he says was success at Bolton where he didnt actually win anything.He has no experience of the current situation he finds himself in and doesnt know what to do to get out of it.He will ultimately fail at Newcastle no matter how much time he is given.Sam has a big ego and believes he thinks he knows better than anyone how football should be played. The problem is no football fan in the country likes which way Newcastle are playing(mackems the exception of course).Look how many times we are on Sky, Setanta etc and the 2 minutes we get on MOTD every week. You have to play a certain style of football at Newcastle or you don't last too long. The fans will see to that. Keegan once said the fans pick the team at Newcastle and this will always remain true.Big Sam has to come to terms with this if he wants to keep his job. I don't think his ego will let him but he needs to be talking to past managers Keegan, Sir Bobby, Dalglish, Souness, Gullit etc etc and with their hindsight they will tell him exactly where he is going wrong.I believe Big Sam is telling Mike Ashley and Chris Mort that he knows what he is doing and in their naivety they believe him. The job is too big for Big Sam and I think he has realised this in the last few weeks and this is passed on to the performances on the pitch. He now has the Joey Barton situation to deal with which again he has no experience of how to.I have supported Newcastle all my life, Joe Harvey was manager when I attended my first match in 1970, so I have seen all the managers come and go in the last 37 years and unfortunately for Big Sam he is just not up to it. He thinks he is but sadly he's not. He lost the fans against Liverpool and he wont win them back unless we win the FA cup this season. Yes he has to do something like that to get the fans back on his side. Every poor game by the team he will get pilloried and its a situation that can't continue. Mike Ashley must be wondering what he's got himself into and he's the only man who can do anything about it.

Ben said:

I agree with some of your blog Lee but the thing is that joey barton differs from Keane and Cantona in two ways ,1:he is not in the same league as either of them as a player: 2: he isnt a free spirit in my opinion.

As for Sam I dont think he will ever be a success here, I honestly cant understand why he doesnt play to players strengths(ie martins who is left footed right wing, milner on the left n`zogbia left back, smith centre midfield!)there is no need!we have no system no gameplan and people have had enough. Enrique hasnt had a bad game for us yet he cant get in the team? People want shearer because he understands whats required at Newcastle unlike Big Sam who obviously doesnt now and I dont think he ever will.
One think Shearer would do is give the club and the fans a much needed lift. And hopefully get people walking away from match day with a smile on there face again.

Michael Becker said:

A few points.

You can't compare Sam to Sir Alex. Ferguson was already a successful trophy winning manager with unfancied Aberdeen when he was appointed at Man U. As best I can recall Sam has won precisely zero trophies. In fact losing a cup final to Boro, led by our unlamented ex-England manager, is the closest he's been. In the biggest game of his managerial career he lost out to Steve McClaren. Marvelous.

Like George Graham at Spurs, Sam is a square peg in a round hole. Graham was always going to be hated by some Spurs fans because of what he did at Arsenal-even though he won a trophy for them. Simple fact is his brand of football was never going to be accepted by the White Heart Lane faithful. Newcastle fans love entertaining football and that simply is not going to change. And while the customer may not always be right, they always have the money.

I was at university in London during part of the Keegan era. I can remember walking around Stratford in East London, seeing kids wearing Newcastle tops. It isn't just about winning things, not even for Newcastle. The fans want to be entertained.

I don't buy Sam's football philosophy. Man U entertain, Arsenal entertain, and they have been hugely successful. One of them two will win the league this season. So what if he beat Man U, Arsenal and Chelsea? They won the trophies and he didn't. One game sure as hell doesn't make a season.

Talking of Man City, if anyone tells you a really good manager can't quickly make an impact, then there's your proof. But I can go one better than that. Look at the impact Sir Bobby Robson had at Newcastle when he took over.

I never wanted Sam, but I said give him some time. I never wanted Barton either,

Newcastle really do need to get a manager with a history of success, of winning domestic and European honors, if they have pretensions of being a European scale club. It is not the time or the place now for a manager who is still learning his trade. Sam is certainly not the finished article and I don't want to wait another two or three seasons while he tries to become it.

Ryder's reply: Cheers for the feedback Michael but for legal reasons I have had to edit your post.
However, didn't Newcastle have Kenny Dalglish - who won the title at Liverpool and Blackburn, while Bobby Robson and Ruud Gullit also won trophies at their clubs before Newcastle.
Even Graeme Souness won the FA Cup with Liverpool and the League Cup with Blackburn.
I think Newcastle have tried everything so far.

lee irving said:

Sacking managers has got us nowhere, even though I am bewildered at how bad some of our so called international players are performing I think we have got to give big sam the time and support to do it his way. Look at sir bobbys first season and a half he got the time to build a team up we finished 13th and 11th If i recall correctly. then got us into europe and then the champs league so who to say sam can't do this? Its every time we loose a game every ones on his back but its the play who play the game and if they can't adapt to different systems/postions then they don't deserve the wages they are geting. I think mort should release funds in january but only for players who will improve our squad. I think it will say alot about ashleys/morts plans for sam if they don't release funds.

Mal said:

it's an absolute disgrace that he is out at 5.30am in the morning only a couple of days before an away game at chelsea, especially as he is supposed to be injured. It shows no respect for his team mates or supporters.

Anonymous said:

Yes. Big Sam came in with a very akward arrogance. I think he's a good guy not ready for such a task. A big mistake was letting Owen start with just 1 week of training before Martins when Martins scored 17 last year. I don't think we have a winner here. What culture has he changed so far?

flamingbagel said:

I can't help but agree with the general tone here. When Sam goes on the record saying he doesn't want his future in the hands of these players, he's only got himself to blame.

Geremi unavailable due to African Nations Cup - Who signed him? Same goes for the other recent African signings. Did Sam not notice?

And for some reason he still doesn't do BBC interviews. Sorry Sam, you're not a big enough man for that sort of boycott to do anything but show you up as too thin-skinned for this job.

It's fair enough that you want to better yourself and see if you're good enough to do a job at a bigger club than Bolton, but you're not.

Sorry, but it's time to go

JimmyG said:

This season is getting worse as the season goes on. As a ticket holder who,s seen every home game, the early games this season, where we picked up points were awful performances, and only papered over the cracks. I,am fed up of so called experts saying we have quality players, when in fact Allidyce inherited dross and signed dross. What I say is if Man U/Chelsea/Liverpool/Arsenal, don,t want them, we don,t either. Until we do we,ll end up relegated within two years

Ray Amour said:

Started going to the "Park" in the early sixties and have been a Magpie fan since the fifties.Seen some good and bad teams,However the most important thing was to see an exciting game,win loose or draw and enjoy the atmosphere. 2007 no atmosphere,no excitement and no idea!
In our Fantasy league there are 50 teams,and guess what? not one person has a Newcastle player in there team.
Wonder why that is?

mancityfan said:

Thank God he's your problem now.

"Brooksy" Blue Mooner said:

I love N U F C ,Your like us,starved of success,passionate supporters,crying out for a trophy.....But thankfully for us we got shut of the liabilty that is JB and sadly you got him !

I didnt see any of the top four beating a path to Eastlands,cause he aint that good !!!and hes nowt but trouble with a capital T ! I reckon that was the best bit of business CITY ever did,selling him to you and youve got him for the next 5 years,

Anonymous said:

"he is not in the same league as either of them as a player"

samtheman687 said:

As a Bolton fan I have to chuckle at some of the comments here. When we had Sam we were all saying the same things. Yes we were sucessful in terms of the league table but the football was utter dross!! He played Henrik Pedersen(a striker) at left back for half a season and Ivan Campo(a slow but skillful holding midfield player) at right back in numerous games. Don't get me wrong if you give him time he will get you the results just don't expect any entertainment value for your £48. Many a time I strolled up to the Reebok for a snooze on a Saturday aft.

trigger the wiganfan said:

Do you honestly expect that Shearer would put up with Mr Barton being out until 5.30am. I don't think so!
If you wanna bring the good times back to the Toon, I think that he's your man with someone upstairs like a Keegan helping him, with local lads on the pitch, who will fight for the cause. The toon had no fight on Boxing Day.

James 09 said:

Lee – very good point re: Dalglish, Gullit, Sir Bobby, and Souness all having won trophies and failing to do so at Newcastle. Sir Bobby’s time with Newcastle was fantastic compared to the other 3 there (shudder).

HOWEVER, Newcastle United have definitely NOT tried everything. What haven’t we tried?? – a truly exceptional manager – that is with an exceptional managerial CV – that is a bucket load of winners’ medals, at domestic and European level. With that said, unfortunately I am well aware of just how difficult (past, present, and future), it would be for us to attract such a manager.

(Despite the first three winning trophies), there is categorically no sane way that Dalglish, Gullit, Souness, Roeder, and now ALLARDYCE could be compared with Capello, Hitzfeld, or Mourinho (who was rather successful with Porto before Chelsea). Scan those three CVs – truly exceptional. No surprise then that the former group have all managed Newcastle United then, and no manager from the latter has.

In fact, Sven (I'd even add Houllier)is in a different league to Gullit, Souness, Roeder, and Allardyce, and NOT just because he has had an instant and massive impact on City. An aside - anyone care to remember the City side which beat us at SJP last season??

Sven has won a bag full of medals – including league and cup doubles with Lazio and Benfica, cups with Roma, Sampdoria, and the UEFA Cup with IFK Göteborg (he did the domestic double with them too). That pedigree compared to the admirable job Allardyce did at Bolton?? Given the choice, I certainly know which I’d have opted for, because in my understanding of football, there is a chasm between what is admirable and what is exceptional.

Mr Allardyce, we really are hoping you prove us wrong, but if things don’t significantly improve (no sorry it hasn’t been a case of an “off dayâ€? because well .there’s been far too many off dayS), and at a decent pace, you can join the utterly forgettable list of many previous managers (just to be clear that DOES NOT include Sir Bobby).

Despite all the difficulty it would entail, until we appoint a truly exceptional manager, Newcastle United have NOT tried everything. I am not saying this is the only and infallible route to the hard currency of football success – silverware – but it is however, something we have not yet tried.

James from Halifax said:

What I don't get is the fans which say get behind him, it takes time. 19 games in and he has laid the foundations down for how he wants the team to play, regardless of performances his idea of football is to hit and hope and have someone in midfield picking up the second ball.

Players are scared to shoot outside the box, you look around when things start to go wrong and players are blaming each other and asking the queastion of who is supposed to be in that position?

When we signed Smith there was no way he was told by Allardyce you'll have to earn your place like the rest otherwise he would've said sod it and stayed at Man U. Smithy is one of our biggest problems, he plays well against the odd top team when he can chase down players who thrive with time on the ball but against similar levelled players he is out of ideas and usually ends up going toe to toe with the like of Darren Moore and losing miserably.

We severely lack quality and the man brought in to buy these players ends up buying a washed up thug as our play maker, a left back who at £6.5 million should've been ready for first team action and as previously mentioned a striker come poor mans midfielder who lacks quality all over his game. £17.5 million and we should trust him with more money in the transfer window?

Nothing knee jerk about my reaction, he has to go, his philosophy is awful and the way he has set the team up means we will lose more than we win.

Gordon Taylor said:

Kevin Keegan has gone from a hero to me, to the worst kind of social worker or probation officer who's jobs remain because of thugs like this. I have to say I am astonished at Keegans attitude in all this. Joey Barton was caught on camera pummelling a man who was unconcious on the floor from a beating this man meted out. Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong. It isnt rocket science. If Keegan truly loves and reveres Newcastle United he will do the morally right thing and rid his club of the scourge of Joey Barton. Everyone I have spoken to agree that this excuse for a man must be made an example of.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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