It’s tempting to trace Newcastle United’s plight (eased a tad by Monday night’s Tyne-Tees derby win) to the day they signed Joey Barton.

Only just back in the team against all-known wisdom, his latest legal assault against Liverpool last Sunday week has ruled him out for the rest of the season.

If Newcastle do go down a Leeds-like meltdown is possible, especially when you look at how the club are being mismanaged on myriad fronts.

Somebody believed it was a good idea to pay nearly £6m for Barton and hand him a contract worth £16.4m over five years; this is a man who told Alan Shearer’s erstwhile BBC colleague Gabby Logan around the time of his 2007 transfer to St James’s Park that he’s always felt he has ‘a higher calling in life’. Some, Shearer included perhaps, would just call him a lowlife.