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Newcastle United: Toon Army’s Split On Barton’s Arrival

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Colin Illingworth

Colin is a sub-editor on a regional newspaper and is a die-hard Aberdeen fan. He's prepared to sell his soul to the Devil for the Dons to return to their former glory so Satan, if you're reading this, give him a call!...
[full biography]
07/06/2007 13:00:00.
read: 3008 times.

Big Sam worked wonders at Bolton Wanderers over a number of years but time is not going to be on his side at Newcastle United. The Toon Army are desperate for something to cheer about and the weight of their expectations rests on Allardyce’s broad shoulders. He has to turn an uninspiring Newcastle side into winners and he believes that the capture of Manchester City’s controversial midfielder Joey Barton will help him achieve it.

Barton is a quality player who will cover every shade of grass for the full 90 minutes and demands the same sort of commitment from his fellow team-mates. He has a fantastic engine, has a wide variety of passes and a great eye for goal. However, his temperament, on and off the field, has left a sour taste in many pundits’ mouths and a number of people have questioned Allardyce’s decision to sign him. Bringing the 24-year-old to Tyneside is a brave decision, but it’s one that Newcastle fan Paul Atkinson believes will come good.

“Joey Barton is a bit of a renegade. He scores spectacular goals, but he seems to suffer from the same 'red mist syndrome' that a certain Mr Bowyer had, so I guess Kieron Dyer must be worried if he sticks around. If Sam manages to keep him in check, which he seems quite good at it – he even managed to tame that horrible character El Hadji Diouf – he will prove to be value for money. He certainly fits the Allardyce Bolton formula of tall and physically strong, something that is severely lacking in our squad generally.”

However, not everyone in black and white is pleased about Barton’s imminent arrival. Lifelong Newcastle fan Gavin Nattrass believes that Barton isn’t a patch on Scott Parker and hopes that the deal falls through.

“I don’t think he is a better player than Scott Parker and I will honestly feel massive despair if we sign him. I cannot believe we are being linked with him. Big Sam seems to have all the talk about what he is going to do and how he is going to re-establish NUFC, he's bringing in a huge backroom team, his analysis models and his Tai Chi gurus. Yet, as he takes his first steps towards re-branding the club in his own image, we get Barton instead of our club captain. Parker is the one man amongst the mediocrity we saw last season who always gave 100 per cent. I am honestly hoping this deal falls through. My friends in Manchester rate him as ‘OK’. He's not a Gazza as I’ve heard said lately.”

Scott Parker felt the wrath of a section of the Toon Army at the end of last season after he criticised some of their expectations, as he struggled to recapture the early form he showed at St James’ Park. When he arrived from Chelsea Parker put in some heroic performances and had the Newcastle fans eating out of his hands, but he made the cardinal sin of criticising those who pay his wages and became a victim of the boo boys. It’s been alleged that he wanted to be a part of the Allardyce revolution and win over the boo boys, but Big Sam obviously had no plans for the former Charlton midfielder. And Paul Atkinson claims that he will not miss Parker in the slightest.

“Scott Parker leaving is no bad thing. He hasn’t really shown anything. He chokes on the big occasion, gets upset when rightly criticised, and comes out with rubbish about 'unreasonable expectations' so we wont be shedding any tears at his departure. I hope he settles back in London at a small club.”

But Gavin Nattrass is gutted at losing Scott Parker and believes that he would have won over his detractors eventually. And if he was given the choice between Parker and Barton, Parker would win hands down every time.

“Parker, for me he has already shown loyalty, fight and desire in our shirt and these days that is rare. He is also the best in the business if played correctly. This reminds me of Pardew not knowing how to play Mascherano. Does Big Sam not know how to play Scotty? He needs a creative passer beside him. Bowyer, Bellamy, Dyer… we've had this type of person. We've had better players and we need better players now, players who understand self-respect and who can respect those who may have a difference of opinion to theirs.”

Joey Barton is unlikely to get the same sort of reception that Alan Shearer and Michael Owen got when they arrived at Newcastle United, but that won’t bother him. He will be well aware of the club’s potential and he would love to end the club’s long trophy drought. But Barton’s not the only new face likely to arrive in Newcastle. A deal has been agreed in principle for Middlesbrough’s Mark Viduka, a player who has been a bit of an enigma during his career. But is he the man to partner Michael Owen or replace him? Paul Atkinson believes Viduka is a good player when he wants to be, but has doubts over Owen’s future at the club.

“Viduka always got lots of abuse as the fat Aussie when he played for Boro but good players get abuse. He has ability and a presence, it just depends if he fancies getting stuck in. He scored some excellent goals for Leeds and Boro, but for a big guy he doesn’t seem to like to mix it with the centre backs. Will he form a partnership with Owen? Does Owen fancy being here? I think he was shocked by the abuse the squad got when they laughably did their lap of 'honour' at the end of last season, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he shipped out before the start of the next campaign.

”We have been linked with Viduka for so many seasons it got a bit boring to be honest. I really hope he isn’t just coming here for a final big payday, and if he and Newcastle can finally lift a trophy, it would be a happy partnership, even the Carling Cup would do.”

A new manager, new players and potentially a new owner, it’s all happening at St James’ Park. Allardyce has started to clear out the deadwood with Bramble, Sibierski, Moore, Bernard and Srnicek all being shown the door, but unless he brings in some top class defenders then he is going to suffer the same pitfalls as his predecessors. Gavin says he wants to see “two left backs, two centre backs, a creative passer in midfield and at least one new striker” arrive in the summer and Paul agrees.

“I am optimistic for the new campaign, but there really need to be five or six quality signings. The squad was paper-thin last year and we have lost a number of centre halves and midfielders for various reasons. These will be badly shown up when the usual injuries start appearing by the end of August.”

Barton ran out of chances at Manchester City and paid the ultimate price. Big Sam will have him on a tight leash and he won’t stand for any of his nonsense. One step out of line and he’ll come down on him like a tonne of bricks. If Barton can stay out of trouble and put in the kind of performances that we all know he can then he will be a success at Newcastle. He’s still relatively young, but it’s about time that he put his troubled past behind and concentrated on his game. He’s never going to win a popularity contest but surely Barton isn’t foolish enough to pick a fight with Big Sam?

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