Joey Barton has been one of Newcastle’s best players this season, and has also been fit this season.
Joey Barton challenges David Bentley last night
Joey of course had a difficult first three seasons on Tyneside, when he played just 47 times with 3 goals, but this season the lad has played 26 times with 5 goals, and has been in superb form, in fact he’s been in the best form of his life.
And apart from one isolated and brief daft moment, which he apologized for, he has also been well behaved on the field of play.
Newcastle manager Pardew has certainly been very impressed with Joey since the Londoner arrived on Tyneside, and he said this today:
“I have to say Joey has worked very hard at turning his life around.” “That has been projected onto the football pitch.”
“We are getting the best of Joey Barton probably at anytime in his career.”
“I thought he was very unlucky to get booked against Birmingham with some of the other challenges that went on.”
“Maybe there is still a slight stain against him.” “But for me, and I can only take someone as I find them, Joey has been superb.”
Pardew is also pleased with Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best, and they both came through a big test last night, and it was terrific to see Peter go up to Leon at the end of the game, after both had been substituted, and give him a big hug – it was like – “we did it”
And after Leon had scored with his great header, when he simply out-jumped two Birmingham defenders, to solidly head the ball past Forster, his face told it all as he ran behind the goal with the Newcastle fans going crazy – if that wasn’t happiness – we don’t know what is.
Alan talked about the two strikers who were heroes last night:
“I think it is about getting the balance right and encouraging them and getting them to produce what is best for their particular game.”
“They are not Shola Ameobi and they are not Andy Carroll. They are different types and we got the best out of them at Birmingham.”
“I’m so pleased for Leon Best because I think there is a bit more pressure on him than Peter because he hasn’t really done a great deal at the football club.”
“But he produced a great performance at St. Andrew’s and can be proud of that.”
We were surprised at just how good Leon looked last night, and we already knew Peter can put the ball into the back of the net.
Best was continuously complimented by the commentators for his excellent heading ability – so it seems obvious Leon is still learning, and he may even be up and down a little bit in the games ahead – but he seems to be on an upward trend of improvement.
We have to remember Leon is still just 24 years old, only a couple of years older than Andy Carroll. In fact Leon is 28 months older than Andy, who is 28 months older than a certain Nile Ranger.
And we still think that Nile Ranger could turn out to be just as good as big Andy, and who knows, maybe in a year or two he could even wear that famous number 9 Newcastle shirt?
Near the end of the game the ball was played back to Ben Foster, and Nile raced back for the ball, and Ben mis-kicked the ball to his right, as he seemed to be unnerved by the 6’2″ streak coming at him.
But that’s what Nile does to defenses – he scares the living daylight out of them.
Yes, we know he still has a lot to learn, but as we’ve said before, he scares the living daylights out of us , and we’re not even playing. 😀