JOEY Barton last night delivered a stinging Twitter attack on the Newcastle United management after the team endured a disappointing pre-season friendly defeat at Leeds United.
The midfielder hinted at simmering discontent between dressing room and boardroom with a series of Tweets following the 3-2 defeat at Elland Road yesterday – both backing Jose Enrique’s outspoken criticisms of the Newcastle hierarchy and pointing to “unrest” in the Magpies’ camp.
It came as a shock postscript to a game in which United had conceded three poor goals – but showed enough spark in spells to suggest they will cause teams problems next season.
However, they will now be battling fresh accusations of a rift between players and the management after Barton added his voice to a chorus of criticism of Mike Ashley’s regime.
Last Sunday, Enrique was slapped with a £100,000 fine for accusing the club of lacking ambition in the transfer market and lying about a contract offer put to him.
And Barton’s Tweets are equally as damaging at a time when the concentration should be solely on preparations for a Premier League campaign less than a fortnight away. The Liverpudlian is not one to hold his tongue, though, and despite refusing requests to conduct post-match interviews with the local press he has laid bare his contempt for unnamed members of the club’s management.
In a series of three messages, he wrote: “If only we as players could tell the fans exactly how it is, without them above fining us lots of money. There will be a time and a place.”
It was followed by: “And again it would be left to those magnificent fans to pick up the remnants of their once great football club. #hadenoughofcertainpeople.
“If it wouldn’t affect team morale and cause unrest within the dressing room, am certain Jose’s comments would be the tip of the iceberg.....
“If I wanted to leave, I’d just come out and say ‘I want to leave’. Things need addressing as am not prepared to go through a relegation again.”
As of last night the club were formulating a response to the latest Twitter controversy, but a fine is almost certain to follow.
The new player contracts being drawn up by United include sanctions for the misuse of social networking sites but as Barton’s contract was signed five years ago, there is unlikely to be provision in his deal for punishment.
Manager Alan Pardew gave his post-match press conference before Barton’s rogue Tweets.
But he did hint that the time was approaching to call a halt on their prolonged pursuit of Paris Saint Germain’s Turkey striker Mevlut Erdinc.
PSG said over the weekend that they want to keep Erdinc, who started the Emirates Cup clash with New York Red Bulls at Arsenal on Saturday.
And Newcastle seem to be losing patience with both player and club.
Pardew said: “I think it’s fairly evident that we’ve spent a lot of time on that transfer. Now, we need to make sure that we’ve got a player or maybe two players for the start of the season.
“Privately, we’ve had a conversation about a timescale for things. But that’s about the best I can say at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Wayne Routledge is set to join Swansea this week after a £2m fee was agreed between the two clubs.
Routledge is due in South Wales for a medical tomorrow with a view to completing the transfer.
“Wayne Routledge’s move to Swansea is imminent. I think they’re fairly close,” Pardew said.