Joey Barton had a falling-out with his Newcastle manager, Sam Allardyce, in the hours before the club's 1-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic on Boxing Day. The Independent has learnt that the pair had a frank exchange after the midfielder was left out of the squad for the game, in favour of Geremi.
Barton, 25, was in jail last night after his arrest for common assault and affray in Liverpool in the early hours of Thursday morning. However, the midfielder's relationship with the manager who signed him from Manchester City for 5.8m in the summer was already tense before the events of the last 48 hours.
Barton is understood to have disagreed with Allardyce's decision not even to have him on the bench for the Wigan game.
The club said that Barton had an ankle injury from the game against Derby County three days earlier, but it is understood that it was never Allardyce's intention to name the midfielder in the squad for the Wigan game. Having travelled with the Newcastle players, Barton told Allardyce he was unhappy he was being rested when the team was announced before the match. The incident was witnessed by some members of the coaching staff in the dressing room at the JJB Stadium.
Barton was understood to have picked out Geremi and expressed his disbelief that he had not been selected ahead of the Cameroonian midfielder. The dispute followed a tense few days in relations between Allardyce and his senior players, who expressed their opposition to a plan to fly from Manchester to London after the Wigan game and stay at The Grove hotel in Watford until today's game against Chelsea.
Allardyce gave his squad the day off on Christmas Day traditionally a training day for teams playing on Boxing Day and then called them in for a 10am training session on the morning of the Wigan game. Only when he announced the team to play against Wigan did Barton lose his temper. Barton had been booed by Newcastle fans when he was substituted during the 2-2 home draw with Derby three days earlier.
The row between Allardyce and Barton came just before the lowest point of the season for the Newcastle manager, a defeat that leaves him clinging on to his job with the unwelcome prospect of a visit to Chelsea today.
Newcastle are at home to Manchester City on Wednesday but it is the game after that which will prove pivotal. A week tomorrow, Allardyce faces a tricky test away to Stoke City, the third-placed team in the Championship, in the FA Cup third round. If that match is lost the Newcastle owner, Mike Ashley, is set to sack the former Bolton manager.
Allardyce's recent decision to make Geremi captain is understood to have been opposed in private by a number of senior players. Against Wigan, the striker Alan Smith led the team. Allardyce said the decision had been made on a "permanent" basis because Geremi was going to play for Cameroon in the African Nations Cup in Ghana next month.
Barton appeared in Liverpool magistrates' court yesterday and was remanded in custody by the magistrate, Carol Myers, in connection with the alleged assault on Thursday morning. The once-capped England player is due to appear in court again on 3 January, when he will give evidence via videolink.
The court was told he and a group of friends were allegedly involved in two separate incidents following a row with another group inside a McDonald's restaurant in Church Street, Liverpool. Barton was remanded in custody. The player sat through the hearing, still wearing the black shirt and jumper he wore on Boxing Day night, with his head bowed, hidden from the press and public gallery.
Barton's brother Andrew, 19, from Widnes, is charged with actual bodily harm and affray and Nadine Wilson, 27, from Huyton, Merseyside, also part of Barton's group, is charged with common assault and affray. Neither appeared in court yesterday. They are both on bail to appear before magistrates next month.Reuse content