Barton behind bars after being charged with assault

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Joey Barton, the Newcastle United midfielder, was yesterday remanded in custody until 3 January following his arrest at 5.30am on Thursday in Liverpool city centre. Along with his 19-year-old brother Andrew and a 27-year-old woman called Nadine Wilson, Barton was arrested for assault and affray after an incident in Church Street. Andrew Barton and Ms Wilson were released on bail yesterday having been questioned on Thursday evening but, due to other outstanding charges of assault, Barton, Newcastle United's 5.8m summer signing from Manchester City, was detained at a prison on Merseyside.

Barton will spend New Year's Eve there, meaning that he will miss not only Newcastle's game at Chelsea this afternoon but also the visit of his former club, City, to St James' Park on Wednesday night.

The case is due back before Liverpool magistrates next Thursday. It has been reported that Barton is expected to appear via videolink. If Barton is found guilty of assault in either case, then his future at Newcastle would be in question, though the club would make no comment yesterday and will not until the legal process is finished.

Barton is said to have undergone a mandatory drugs test while in police custody on Thursday, as well as tests for levels of alcohol.

"It's been a very tough Christmas and a very tough week for us," the Newcastle manager, Sam Allardyce, said yesterday. Allardyce knew of Barton's history when he signed the 25-year-old but, like others who have encountered the Liverpudlian, Allardyce knew of a different side to his personality.

Barton's self-awareness has led him to seek help from the Sporting Chance charity and his mentor, Peter Kay, tried yesterday to give some context to Barton's social life. Having flown to the North-west to see Barton, Kay said: "My support for Joey will never waver. I feel devastated that this side of Joey is the side people see when I am privileged to know a different man.

"When I heard the news I was not totally surprised. I was on the phone to him for an hour and a half the night before and he was troubled about many things. We talked through them. He is a terrific bloke but when I saw the incident and that the fact he was locked up, the truth is he has screwed himself up.

"There is always goading of footballers these days and it is something people should not get away with. This year he was on holiday in a club and people were spitting at him. They kept spitting at him, giving him shit. He went to the toilet and took off his watch and his ring and looked at himself in the mirror. He thought about what I would say to him, and left the club with his mates walked away from it.

"That sort of thing has happened five times at least. We have worked on him walking away for two and a half years. He needs to do it loads of times."

Other professional players may not be so sympathetic but Newcastle have to get on with their season without Barton for at least two more games. As he will have spent a week in jail, it is also unlikely Barton will be considered ready to face Stoke City in the FA Cup third round next Sunday.

That fixture looks potentially significant for Allardyce, though the hierarchy's faith remains intact and the recruitment of the South Korean striker Cho Jae Jin was sanctioned until Newcastle withdrew their interest last night.

Another lending support to Allardyce yesterday was Sir Alex Ferguson. "It seems to me Newcastle, as soon as they lose a game, their manager's career is threatened," Ferguson said. "How many managers have they had in my time at United? A lot. They've had at least 10 I'm not so sure it's a job you'd want to take.

"The thing with Newcastle fans is that they think they should be winning games 5-0 all the time. Probably the worst thing that happened to them was beating us 5-0. Since then they think every game should be 5-0. And that was 11 years ago. They have got to say to themselves that time is the thing.

"I would be astounded if they sacked Sam Allardyce. I'm convinced that, of all the managers they've had, he's capable of doing better than most of them. I can still never understand why they got rid of Bobby Robson, with his experience, and the fact he's a Geordie."

Allardyce himself said yesterday that Everton's long-term development under David Moyes is the template to which Newcastle should be working. "In the last two games we were only a smidgeon away from putting two results together to be going above Blackburn and level with Portsmouth," he said. "But all of a sudden because of this football club and its past, it's all doom and gloom. It's never anything other than crisis. But there is no crisis here."