Joey Barton has urged Newcastle United's owner, Mike Ashley, to ensure the £35m the club received for Andy Carroll is reinvested in the team. And the midfielder warned that the club must recruit personnel of the requisite quality, rather than buying on the cheap, to bolster a squad short on depth.
On Tuesday, Newcastle gained their first victory since Carroll joined Liverpool, adding a 2-0 win at Birmingham to Saturday's 0-0 draw at Blackburn. Barton believes the results show the camaraderie of Alan Pardew's side, but maintains the new manager must be given the resources to break a "stop-start" cycle on Tyneside. "You don't take four points from Ewood and St Andrew's if you don't have that character," said Barton, who made his 200th league appearance against the Carling Cup finalists. "This squad wants to keep pushing on but we need a squad to compete on all fronts. It's up to the men upstairs to make sure we amass one and get the bodies in to challenge for Europe."
In a thinly veiled message to Ashley, Barton added: "You need to spend money. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. So hopefully they spend it and spend it wisely. There are certain characters who, if you'd brought them into this dressing-room four or five years ago, wouldn't have gelled. The mentality now is such that you could almost pitch anyone in and they would buy into our work ethic. Everyone who has come in over the past year has had to buy into our principles and there are lads who sacrifice individual performances for the team.
"With all the adversity that's gone on around the club, we're probably a bit low on bodies [to compete in the Premier League] and go on cup runs and the things we all want to do. We played on Saturday and Tuesday, and obviously teams who can rotate are at a massive advantage. If we can add more in the summer, we've got the spine of a side that can push for a European place."
Barton suggested Newcastle's spirit had developed despite a perpetual state of flux. "The nature of this club is that it's sometimes stop-start. As soon as we get something going, players get sold and we have to start again. It feels like a constant work in progress and it's tough in that respect, but what we have is character in abundance."