Paolo Di Canio claims he could've landed one on Joey Barton in Steve Harper's testimonial at St James' Park but ended up signing Toon shirts after the match.
Paolo Di Canio: 'There was an occasion after five minutes that if I go straight I will damage, but I'm a manager, he's a footballer, I'm not stupid.
'He has to play football, it's not a challenge between me and him.
'I can understand because we know his character that he wants to be involved in situations. It's in his nature.
'It's not even wrong, sometimes he goes overboard in his football. It was a fun moment. We know him, he wants to be good in front of the people, in front of the fans.
'I thought I can't get involved with this. It's not the nature of the occasion.'
Di Canio revealed that regardless of all the stick the Geordie faithful gave him, they still asked him to sign replica shirts after the final whistle.
He added: 'It was possible because for them I represent, I am a Mackem that challenge them in their stadium.
'Then at the end they came to me and asked if I could sign the shirt. It's a part of the game.'