Alan Shearer yesterday launched a scathing attack on Joey Barton for the straight red card the Newcastle midfielder earned in his side's 3-0 defeat to Liverpool. Shearer said Barton had "let the club down" for his tackle on Xabi Alonso which could yet be his last action for the club before he is sold this summer.
Shearer, whose team are three points from safety with three games left to play, said that Barton had apologised to his team-mates for the tackle which also ended Alonso's involvement in the game.
Asked whether he thought the player had let him down, Shearer said: "Definitely." The manager added: "He [Barton] has let the football club down and he's let himself down, without a doubt. He wasn't unlucky, it was the right decision. The referee was spot on. He [Barton] has apologised. We now miss him for the rest of the season. Not happy."
Shearer also suggested Barton would be fined the maximum two weeks' wages – around £120,000 in Barton's case – for the red card that came in his first game back since breaking a metatarsal in January. He will miss the remaining games against Middlesbrough, Fulham and Aston Villa and is almost certain to find himself out of the club he joined two years ago in the summer.
The interim manager also admitted that Michael Owen was not pleased to have been left out of the side . Shearer, who had previously insisted that a fit Owen would always start for Newcastle, said: "Michael wasn't happy and I wouldn't want him to be happy. But he's been very professional about it because he is a great professional.
"We haven't been creating chances. That's been our problem. Is Oba [Martins] more likely to score one from 15, 20 or 25 yards than Michael? Probably. So we knew that we would be likely to feed off scraps. I think we had one chance in the first half and one in the second half. But it wouldn't have been a different story if either of those chances had gone in. It was just to try something different. But he [Owen] took it in the right way.
"It was a very tough game for us. The best team won. No complaints. I thought the first goal was offside but I don't think it would have changed the course of the game. There could have been a few more. But this game wasn't going to seal our fate. It's the next two that will be the case. [The match against Middlesbrough] is the biggest game of anyone's Newcastle career who is at the club now, without a shadow of doubt.
"I don't feel powerless, it's my job to put a team out that can do a job and it hasn't happened. We'll forget about this. This game wasn't going to seal our fate. The next one or two will. We've got to try and eradicate it and get rid of it. We will work all week and get ourselves ready for a massive game."
Yossi Benayoun scored Liverpool's opening goal on 22 minutes and Shearer accepted it was defensive errors that cost his team. Dirk Kuyt and Lucas Leiva scored the others. In reference to his spat with Sir Alex Ferguson, Rafael Benitez joked that he did not feel safe at 2-0. "I didn't want to make any gestures in the dugout just in case," he said.