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YOU have to admire Joey Barton's brass neck.

As his private jet touched down on sizzling tarmac in the South of France, an earnest Barton was delivering one of the all-time great footballer quotes to the Sky Sports News reporting team that had accompanied him to Marseille.


WHEN Mike Ashley renamed St James' Park after the sportswear company that had turned him into one of Britain's richest men, the menacing warnings that emanated from a wounded Tyneside were stark.

WHISPERED conversations between players, agents stirring the pot and clubs trying to maintain a poker face for a month as they balance the wishes of egomaniac managers with chairman tightening their belts.

Welcome to the world of the modern transfer deal - a far cry from the sanitised version portrayed on Sky Sports News and best-selling computer game Football Manager.
The Sunday Sun today attempts to shed some light on why January is such a tortuous month for football clubs - and why the transfers that might come to pass in the last seconds of the window have probably been six months in the making.

Most of the deals that Newcastle are lining up have been worked on since September 1, the day the window snapped shut.


GRAEME Souness is making rather a better fist of being a perceptive pundit than he ever did as a manager, but his column this week made for difficult reading.

It opened up with the following sentiment: "Steve Bruce paid the price of the high expectations in the North East."

Head spin

By Mark Douglas on May 26, 11 10:07 AM


IF there was ever any scintilla of doubt about where the power lies at Newcastle United, it was brutally removed yesterday.

By sending Joey Barton's agent packing without even the sniff of a contract offer yesterday, Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias sent a message. It was a clarion call to the dressing room, to the manager and to any agents presuming the club's need to recruit gives them a licence to make unreasonable demands - and it leaves no-one in any doubt that they are in firm control of events at St James' Park.

It only takes a minute...

By Mark Douglas on May 24, 11 10:21 AM


AFTER 38 games, roughly 57 hours of football (give or take some chunks of injury time) and a barrel load of blood, sweat and tears, how remarkable that in the end it all came down to the last 60 seconds of the season.

Early Cup exits combined with European dreams frittering away in mid-March meant the battle for regional bragging rites became the sole focus for Sunderland and Newcastle as the campaign wound to a less-than-compelling conclusion.

ANDY Carroll's boos problem at Anfield carried a potent warning for Jose Enrique, the Newcastle player most vulnerable when the transfer window re-opens later this month.

ERUDITE, engaging and frequently eviscerating, there is a reason why an interview with Joey Barton is considered the sports journalist's equivalent of winning the lottery.

Forthright opinions are not rare in the world of Premier League football but finding someone at the peak of his powers willing to express them certainly is, which is reason why any dialogue with Barton is invariably dynamite.


I MAY be setting myself up for a fall with this one but as a veteran of that infernal 2008/09 campaign I feel qualified to make a bold judgement. Newcastle United will not be relegated this season.

The advance of the struggling pack combined with United's own flat-lining form has rightly raised alarm on Tyneside but panic is not the appropriate reaction. Not yet, anyway.

FORGIVE me for turning this blog into a commercial break for a minute but if you're a Newcastle United fan it might be worth reading on.

While United were effectively securing Premier League survival in the Second City on Tuesday evening, another potentially significant moment for Newcastle supporters was taking place in our own city.

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