August 2011 Archives
The first time I ever met Joey Barton he gave the instant impression he wasn't like the average footballer.
He was down to earth.
Shortly after his comeback game from a broken foot at Kingston Park, Barton came out of the tunnel to do an interview and had managed to tread on a huge plaster which was stuck to his foot.
Barton said: "What is it, bloody hell."
Immediately, club officials prepared to get down on their knees to help remove the plaster but Barton wouldn't let them and said: "No I've got it myself."
Other footballers would have been happy to be pampered but it struck me right from the off he was just normal.
You haven't lived in Newcastle if you haven't been present or heard a debate about Shola Ameobi, well that debate will be going on until at least 2014.
They do occur randomly and are usually quite high up on the agenda of most Geordie fans and nothing quite splits supporters like a conversation about Shola.
The last one I encountered was in a taxi when the driver said: "What do people see in Shola man?"
Well, that's a big can of worms but since Ameobi made his debut for the first team 11 years ago, only Kevin Keegan took the plunge of trying to move the long-serving striker on.
Gabriel Obertan looked like a focused and hungry individual when setting foot into a deserted St James' Park for the first time since joining the Magpies from Manchester United.
He arrives from Old Trafford stating he has a point to prove after making just over a dozen appearances for Man U and on the back of a few moans and groans.
Given Obertan has not even had a run in the Man U team in the last two years, it's difficult to see how the masses from Torquay, Halifax and Wigan can really formulate an opinion.
But his opening words were impressive and when handed a black and white shirt from Alan Pardew for the obligatory photo opportunity it has to be said he couldn't get it on quick enough.