The main thing I wanted to avoid was any form of sensationalism which I’ve hopefully done.
The question is pretty simple, and their are a number of reasons why I’m asking it, with the main reason being that it’s what I’m actually starting to think.
Joey has been excellent for us this season despite being played in what is an unfamiliar role to him. He is finally starting to repay the faith, transfer fee and wages that have been invested in him since his arrival from Manchester City, which is a good thing, but with the emergence of his importance to the team it has raised some potential issues.
I actually think that Joey Barton will be off in the summer, and I believe that his contract discussions are starting to point towards what I am thinking. Here we have a player who was all for setting an example and sticking with Newcastle to the point of taking a pay cut apparently and he had even agreed a deal in principle. That never materialised, which seems strange. Why the sudden change? Have the goalposts been shifted?
The rumour is that there is a disagreement over the length of the term of Barton’s new contract, which leads me to my next point, and that point is that I already think we are trialing Joey Barton’s replacement as we speak.
As has been said many times by many people, we do seem to have a lot of players that can play in Joey Barton’s natural position. Alan Smith, Dan Gosling, Kevin Nolan, Cheik Tiote, Danny Guthrie and Stephen Ireland all operate in that central midfield position, which means that we are oversubscribed in that particular position.
If we end up signing Stephen Ireland permanently, and Pardew seems to like him so it’s possible, then we will have a situation where we have two similar players on big money to fight for the same place in the team. Will the club keep both? Or will the club ditch the one with only twelve months left on his contract?
You see what I’m getting at?
Basically, what I think is happening is that the club are looking at trying to move Barton on and are looking at replacing him with a younger model. Maybe I’m being paranoid, and maybe my little mind is working overtime, but Ireland would certainly seem to meet the clubs profile of being young and with a point to prove as opposed to Barton who will be 29 in September.
Flog Barton, and recruit Ireland and the club would end up with a player that they could get more years out of at the top of his game. I view Ireland’s loan period at the minute as a kind of working interview, which seems to be one of the ways that we recruit players these days.
If you think I’m crazy then shout up, but I think we already have Barton’s replacement lined up! « Pardew: “We’re looking everywhere – no stone will be left unturned.” | Ireland’s working job interview. »