Pardew: 'Barton is worth all the hassle'

15 August 2011 09:43
ALAN Pardew expects Joey Barton to remain at Newcastle United beyond the end of the transfer window, and insists he is willing to tolerate the controversy that invariably attaches itself to the maverick midfielder.

Not content with hogging the headlines throughout a summer that has seen him slapped on the transfer market because of his misconduct, Barton was back in the limelight as Newcastle opened their season with a dour goalless draw with Arsenal at the weekend.

Named in the starting line-up after a succession of meetings with his manager on Thursday and Friday, the 28-year-old midfielder was involved in an unsavoury second-half incident that saw Arsenal midfielder Alex Song stamp on his groin.

Song escaped punishment, although he is likely to be disciplined retrospectively after the Football Association review footage of the stamp this morning, and a clearly incensed Barton left the field to remonstrate with the fourth official.

Fifteen minutes later, and tempers frayed again, with Barton hauling Arsenal striker Gervinho off the floor to accuse him of diving. Gervinho was dismissed after slapping Barton on the side of the face the Magpies midfielder went down rather too easily and accused his opponent of throwing a punch but Barton escaped with just a booking from referee Peter Walton.

Last season, Barton was also involved in a flashpoint that led to Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby being sent off at St James', but while the Liverpudlian appears to possess an unerring ability to attract controversy, both on and off the pitch, Pardew insists being at the centre of attention is an integral part of his game.

Joey is a competitive player, and I've worked with a lot of competitive players in my time, said the Newcastle boss. Look at someone like Paul Ince whenever he played, things always happened around him. The same was true of Bryan Robson, and he was the England captain.

There are going to be incidents when people like that put a tackle in or get involved with something they don't like. They've got character, that's why they're great players.

As you've seen from his Twitter feeds, Joey's got a personality and a bit of character. I'm not saying he's always perfect, but he expresses that character on the pitch. He gets involved in things, but what has he done here He's been stamped on and slapped around the head.

That is one view of events, but while Barton was undoubtedly more transgressed against than transgressor, it could also be argued that his conduct left a lot to be desired.

Some referees might have sent him off for placing both hands on Gervinho's chest as he hauled him from the ground former Newcastle boss Alan Shearer certainly suggested as much on Match Of The Day while Barton's indignity at Gervinho's alleged dive was somewhat undermined by his own attempts to exaggerate the African's actions.

Attempting to provide his own account of events on Saturday evening, Barton tweeted: What do people want me to do, stand and trade blows with Gervinho. If u raise ur hands to players faces, u should be off. Ref got it right.

Imagine if I'd stamped on Song, all the numptys would be calling out for a public execution. What cos it's on me it's alright

If I stayed up or went down it's not relevant, raises his hands, off. I was merely highlighting he struck me. Song's stamp should have been seen.

Barton subsequently appeared on Radio Five's 606 phone-in last night and admitted he had gone down too easily when Gervinho made contact with him.

However, he maintained he was entitled to flag up the incident to the referee, and claimed it was important to do what he could to protect a point that could turn out to be very valuable to Newcastle's season.

Ironically, Barton's starting spot was not even confirmed until Friday night, with Pardew having sought a series of assurances about his ongoing commitment to the Newcastle cause.

As far as the United boss is concerned, the discussions mark an end to the matter, with Barton expected to start when Newcastle travel to Sunderland on Saturday.

However, it remains to be seen whether Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias are willing to retain their most controversial member of staff, or whether other clubs attempt to approach him during the final fortnight of the transfer window.

As far as I'm concerned, with Joey and me, that's the end of things, said Pardew. He showed me what I wanted to see.

On Thursday, I asked him for assurances about what he was going to do and how he was going to play for us, and he answered them. The most important thing for Joey is answering on the football pitch and he did that. He sent the right message and I think that's important.

I think he will still be here at the end of the window. You can never say never, but I think so. If we have a fully focused Joey Barton, that is a massive asset for me as manager.

Source: Northern_Echo