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Barton says new signings must have right character
Published : 17 Feb 2011 10:02:10
JOEY BARTON has described how an incredible bond within the dressing room has given Newcastle United every chance of staying in the Premier League this season. But the frankly talking Magpies midfielder has warned the club's supporters not to expect a push for a European place in the next 18 months unless there is an effective spending spree in the summer. Barton, knowing the club have £35m from the sale of Andy Carroll to reinvest back in the squad, wants to see a number of new faces brought in during the close-season. He does, though, admit that manager Alan Pardew must ensure any new recruits are purchased on attitude and with the right character rather than just ability. We do still need to improve the squad. We are hungry to do that and it is up to the men upstairs to amass a squad that gives us the bodies to challenge for a European football spot, said Barton, after Tuesday night's 2-0 win at Birmingham lifted Newcastle eight points clear of the bottom three. You need to spend money, if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. As long as they spend it and spend it wisely we have a chance. I think you could pitch any sort of character in to the dressing room, but they would have to buy in to the culture we have in there. If they don't they would be found out quite quickly and moved on. Everyone who has come in over the last year has had to buy in to our principles and how hard we work for each other. All of the lads in there are prepared to sacrifice individual performances for the good of the team and that is how you get a good side. Barton was not prepared to divulge any progress that has or has not been made since he went public and announced his intention to commit his future to the club ten days earlier. But the 28-year-old, playing some of the best football of his career this season on Tyneside, is happy to be a part of Pardew's squad even if he feels additions are essential. I know this football club can do some strange things but this is very much a work in progress, he said. We have had set backs a long the way, and it has been tough this season, but we have spirit in abundance and we dig in when the chips are down. We have a team of 11 men together and we have shown that again at Birmingham. We might need to be able to rotate the squad a bit but I am quite happy to be playing every week. What we have to look for, when lads pick up injuries and suspensions, we have got good quality players to come in. We have 14, 15 or 16 players with Premier League experience who can do that. For me you need 20 or 22. First we still have to get to the 42 point mark, which is what we set as the bare minimum we felt we could achieve. One player Barton feels has proven himself when it has mattered is Leon Best. The striker had failed to find the net during his first 12 months in the North-East, but now he has scored five goals in his eight league appearances this year. There is a pressure on him to continue in that manner following Carroll's departure to Liverpool and Shola Ameobi's fractured cheekbone. The strikers have stepped up. If you are Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands, Nile Ranger, Shefki Kuqi, that's the chance they have been waiting for, said Barton, after witnessing Best and Lovenkrands score the vital goals at St Andrews. Best has taken the bull by the horns, he has proven he is Premier League quality. It is another goal for him and strikers live and die for goals. Peter has done what he has been doing for a long time, he is a nuisance in the box and scores goals. The more they play together, the more the develop and understanding. Newcastle will have to wait a bit longer before they have Hatem Ben Arfa in their squad again. Ben Arfa, due on Tyneside towards the end of next week, has missed the majority of the season since Nigel de Jong broke his leg at Manchester City in October. But the France international, who has North African roots, had been allowed to remain in Tunisia with his family after last month's protests. There were 219 people that lost their lives during the protests that led to the toppling of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia last month. Ben Arfa's time off has slowed down his rehabilitation and now it could be April before he is back in action for the Magpies.