Barton warning over next season
JOEY BARTON is not banking on a top ten place just yet, but believes Newcastle United will face a tougher second season in the Premier League if progress does not continue. And Barton, yet to agree a new contract at St James' Park with one year remaining of his existing deal, is not happy with the suggestion the Magpies have surpassed expectations on their return to the top-flight. The 28-year-old has been satisfied, but believes there should be no complacency otherwise Newcastle could suffer from second season syndrome. He said: "We believed in the squad and the group that we could achieve what we've achieved and maybe, if one or two things had gone our way, we might have done a little bit better. "Next season is going to be as difficult a season, if not a lot more difficult, because teams will respect you a little bit more and the cup final atmosphere of every game goes. "It's going to be a lot more difficult than what it's been this season. The test is on us to improve individually and as a collective to move forward." Barton refuses "to get too carried away" with the prospect of a top ten finish, knowing Newcastle must claim results at Chelsea and then at home to West Brom to stand a chance of that happening. With the threat of relegation gone, Barton is happy to have been part of a squad which has adapted well to the Premier League after last season's success in the Championship. The former Manchester City man, linked with Aston Villa and Tottenham, has been outstanding and that form continued in the win over Birmingham on Saturday. Barton, recently quoted as saying he felt he should be in the England squad, said: "I was quoted in French magazines as saying what I felt about my form, which was totally blown out of proportion. "It is what it is really, for me the most important thing was to achieve Premier League survival with a group of players at Newcastle United. "Whether that was with me playing well or Shola Ameobi, Kevin Nolan or whoever, the lads have been there throughout the season. "Individuals win nothing and achieve nothing - thankfully we've got a good squad mentality and a good rapport between ourselves and we've been able to propel ourselves up the table the last few months."
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