As Alan Pardew prepared to bid farewell to another of his cornerstone players yesterday, with Jose Enrique at Anfield finalising a £6m move, the Newcastle manager was refusing to resign himself to Joey Barton following the Spanish left-back – plus Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan – through the exit door at St James' Park. The chances are that Barton, having tweeted his way on to the transfer list with his criticism of the Tyneside club, will be winging his way away from the Magpies before deadline day. Still, Pardew has planned more peace talks with the disaffected midfielder, who he has yet to rule out of contention for bench duty for the match at home to Arsenal tomorrow.
"I've offered Joey an olive branch," Pardew said. "I've said, 'Look, Joey, I'm not going to put you to one side and say that I'm not going to involve you in the club'. His crime, to me, wasn't that great and I'm big enough to look him in the eye and say, 'By the same token, I want the same back from you. If you're going to stay, I need to hear that you're going to stay'."
Perhaps it was a conciliatory sign that Barton (in addition to telling the world that he was "sitting eating sushi in the city, incredibly chilled out reading Nietzsche") was quoting the Dalai Lama for the benefit of his 28,706 Twitter followers yesterday: "You must not consider tolerance and patience to be signs of weakness. I consider them signs of strength."
The question is whether the sometime England international has the desire – not to mention the strength – to tolerate a future at a club he has so heavily criticised? There is also the pertinent question of which clubs are prepared to offer him a future elsewhere. At present, the only two options would appear to be Stoke City and Zenit St Petersburg and it is not yet known whether the Renaissance man of the midfield happens to be a fan of Arnold Bennett or Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Asked whether Barton would still be at Newcastle next month, Pardew said: "Only Joey will determine that. I've said to Joey that he won't play for me and I won't include him unless I think he's pulling for us.
"I'll probably talk to him before the start of training tomorrow. I'm not sure he'll start on Saturday, in my mind, whatever answer he gives me. I want to be fair to the fans and I want to be fair to him. It's not like our relationship has broken down. Our relationship is pretty strong. I think he's in a better frame of mind."
An agreement reached yesterday on bonus payments may put the remaining members of the Newcastle squad in a better frame of mind for the new season. In the meantime, the search for new faces continues, with the Dutch left-back Erik Pieters of PSV expected to arrive next week as a replacement for Enrique and a move for Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner also the talk of the Toon.Reuse content