Alan Pardew has defended Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton, with the 28-year-old looking set to stay with the Toon for the rest of the season after an impressive performance against Arsenal over the weekend.
Barton was told by Newcastle he could leave on a free transfer over the summer, with the club taking offence to the star’s comments on Twitter about the board.
But now Pardew has given the Englishman his backing, and believes that Barton is completely focused on taking the Magpies towards the club's short and long term goals this season.
“As far as I’m concerned, with Joey and me, that’s the end of things,” Pardew said.
“He showed me what I wanted to see on Saturday. Of course he’s only got one year left on his contract and I’ve learned the lessons from [what happened with] Andy Carroll, so I won’t be saying that he’ll definitely be staying, but I think he will.
“If we have a fully focused Joey Barton, that is a massive asset for me as a manager.”
Barton was involved in conflict with Gervinho on Saturday, but Pardew insists that any negative press will only serve to motivate Barton to perform well on the field.
“On Thursday I asked him for assurances about what he was going to do and how he was going to play for us and he answered them,” the Newcastle boss said.
“The most important thing for Joey is answering on the football pitch and he did that. He sent the right message and I think that’s important.
“There’s been a lot said and written about him and I’m sure a lot of it he didn’t like, but I told him the most important thing was to go and do what he does best and that’s play football – that’s what he did.”
Despite coming away from Saturday with only a point, Pardew insisted that the Toon showed a mental strength that is pleasing to see at the start of the season.
He added: “You certainly couldn’t fault our spirit on Saturday. Look at Jonas, running 50 metres in the second minute of injury time to make sure that Walcott didn’t get a cross in. That gives you the indication that things are okay.
“We will fight in every corner of the pitch for the black and white. And I thought that was apparent.”