Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew is standing by midfielder Joey Barton following his outspoken comments this week in the French magazine So Foot.The 28-year-old said that he is the best English midfielder and that he will not sign a new contract for his club until they proves their ambition. [LNB]Pardew told BBC Newcastle: "Joey is an opinionated person and that isn't a problem for me." [LNB]Barton is captaining the Magpies in place of the suspended Kevin Nolan. [LNB]The Liverpudlian has enjoyed a strong season for Newcastle with his passing and ability at set-pieces being widely praised for helping his side to ninth in Premier League. [LNB]And Pardew said: "He's striking the ball, he's connecting with the ball so well that he's a problem for the opposition." [LNB]His manager believes that the Newcastle captaincy is a fitting reward. [LNB]"He does deserve it for the performance and the discipline he's shown," said Pardew. [LNB]However earlier in the this season Barton was handed a three match ban after punching Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pedersen at St James' Park.[LNB] [LNB][LNB] A controversial figure, he joined Newcastle from Manchester City in a £5.8m deal in June 2007, four months after he had made his full international debut for England. [LNB]However, the following year, he served two months of a six-month jail sentence for attacking a man during a night out in his hometown. [LNB]But Pardew has been impressed by Barton: "It's off the pitch that Joey has corrected a lot of what was wrong with him as a professional footballer." [LNB]Barton's recent comments have not changed the manager's opinion. [LNB]"On the other side of it, if you had people without opinions, without that maverick streak then you wouldn't have talented individuals," he added. [LNB]"You wouldn't have Eric Cantona, you wouldn't have George Best - some of these players, their make-up is that individualism."