Joey Barton faces old employers Newcastle United tonight in his first game for new club Queens Park Rangers.
Barton left the Magpies amidst controversy for publicly criticising Newcastle’s transfer policy, particularly surrounding the management's decision not to replace striker Andy Carroll, who was sold for £35 million in January. The controversy is heightened by Barton being allowed to leave on a free transfer, despite his fine form making him arguably the best player for the Toon last season.
Newcastle have earned seven points out of a possible nine so far this season, a great success considering the amount of experienced players they lost in the latest window, and midfielder Cheick Tiote is eager to keep the focus on the club's success thus far, rather than drawing back to Barton.
“Joey has gone now and that’s history for us,” said Tiote.
"It’s football – everything happens in football like that but we must move on as a team at Newcastle. I’m sad Joey has gone, but that’s football, we need only to think about the team and winning this match.”
Tiote had only kind words for his former colleague when questioned on Barton at a personal level, adding the midfielder is 'a good man and a good friend', insisting their is no problem between the pair.
Ultimately though, Tiote’s one-and-only concern is the form of Newcastle, adding: “We’ve started well, and we need to stay focused and continue that.”
If Newcastle were to achieve a win tonight, it would see them break into the top three ahead of Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League.