FORGET Newcastle United, any manager that can turn convicted criminal/alcoholic Joey Barton into a mushy Barney & Friends character should be managing Chelsea, Manchester United or Real Madrid.

Barton was once caught on CCTV in the streets of Liverpool throwing around 20 punches in the face of a man who was down and out on the floor, before turning on a 16-year-old and breaking a few of his teeth.

This was after he started attending anger management class.

This was after he started attending anger management class.

Yet there he was after Newcastle’s 3-1 victory over Liverpool, making a heartfelt dedication of his Man-of-the-Match champagne to sacked Newcastle manager Chris Hughton.

As he was receiving the bubbly from fellow Scouser and Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan, who was also singing Hughton’s praises, he said: “Can I just dedicate that to Chrissy (Hughton) … Thanks for everything you’ve done for us at the football club. Greatly appreciated.”

I don’t want to paint a picture of Barton as a savage beast with no emotions, but it’s the first time I’ve ever seen this new-age-sensitive-acoustic-guitar-singer-songwriter side of him.

Even before he received his MotM award, he was gushing about “Chrissy”.

“He’s one of the nice guys of football, and it’s a shame. But this is a cruel game, and we were just talking about it yesterday, about how fast it goes on, and it’s like he was never here,” he said.

Now this guy knows a thing or two about the “cruel game”. Barton once stuck a lit cigar into the eye of a youth team player, and punched then-Manchester City teammate Ousmane Dabo until he needed hospital treatment for a suspected detached retina in his eye.

When he tells you Hughton’s sacking was cruel, you’d better believe it, or he might just make you.

When he tells you Hughton’s sacking was cruel, you’d better believe it, or he might just make you.

Hughton had brought back a sense of respectability to the club with the way he went about his business, and people in turn respected the club for sticking with him. After all, he had stuck with the club through their season in the Championship, and brought them back to the Premier League stronger than before.

Their first home game this season was a 6-0 win over Aston Villa, they’ve beaten Arsenal at the Emirates, trashed their bitter rivals Sunderland 5-1 and were 12th in the league, even after losing their would-be star player Hatem Ben Arfa to a long-term injury.

Andy Carroll, previously known more for his off-field troubles, is now an England international thanks largely to Hughton’s management.

On the back of a 3-1 win over Liverpool, Ashley’s decision to replace him with Alan Pardew would look like a smart move.

But as Barton sagely pointed out, “He’s only been in two days … It’s more the lads.”

So under Hughton, Barton has gone from trying to blind his own teammates with acts of random violence to standing up for the team.

“We’ve got a great dressing room. We care for each other greatly, and I think it shows on the pitch,” he said.

But perhaps the most poignant evidence of the transformation Hughton has overseen in his time at Newcastle, was the supposedly brutish Barton saying ever so eloquently about the club moving on: “The king is dead. Long live the king. That’s what they say, eh?”

Here are some other unfair dismissals in the past…

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea, 2004-2007

He left by “mutual consent”, but it was fairly obvious that he was forced out by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich – just as it looked like he was about to build a Chelsea dynasty that would dominate English football.

The common assumption is that Roman wanted his empire to be based on silky attacking football, not Mourinho’s win-at-all-costs approach. Many felt the last straw was when only 25,000 fans turned up at Chelsea’s 42,000 capacity Stamford Bridge stadium for the team’s dour Champions League draw against Rosenborg Trondheim.

Vicente Del Bosque, Real Madrid, 1999-2003

With a face as wobbly as Harry Redknapp’s but without any of Harry’s wit to compensate, Del Bosque was the antithesis of Mourinho – zero charisma, but big on attacking football.

To the Real Madrid hierarchy, that’s not enough for the high profile post of Madrid manager.

So despite having won two Champions League and two La Liga titles, and managing the Galacticos’ egos in a way many thought would be impossible, he was sacked after four years in charge.

Since Del Bosque’s departure in 2003, Madrid have gone through 10 managers, only one of whom lasted more than a year, and they’ve only won La Liga twice.

Del Bosque, on the other hand, won the World Cup with Spain this year.

Martin Jol, Tottenham Hotspur, 2004-2007

Despite having brought European football to White Hart Lane for two successive seasons with top five finishes in the league, Martin Jol was sacked in 2007; ironically receiving word about his dismissal at half-time during a UEFA cup match against Getafe.

And if the team didn’t have any of that infamous dodgy lasagne at the end of the 2005-06 season, they’d probably have won that game against West Ham and with it, Champions League football.

Ten Tottenham players were left unable to stand the day after eating at the Marriott hotel in Canary Wharf, which being in London, meant that there was the possibility of rival Arsenal fans having been in the kitchen.

The prime suspect, remaining portions of the lasagne, were the subject of a police investigation, with scientists testing it for any foul play. The lasagne was declared innocent.

Tell us what you think!

Go top