He tears fans’ opinions apart – some like him, some absolutely despise him. His various red cards, his astronomical amount of twitter tantrums and his assertions of philosophical and political ‘genius’ all attract way too much attention towards Joey Barton.
We’ve all grown used to his antics, we’re used to him creating controversy on The Big Questions, we’re used to him creating controversy on the pitch. The man epitomises the word, and the Liverpudlian has been linked with it far too often. However, for all the negatives, there is another side to Joey Barton, and a side that Queens Park Rangers need.
Upon his arrival from Newcastle in 2011, many were certainly sceptical on his move. It came as a shock for QPR fans, it wasn’t what they were used to. It had been a long time since a Premier League ‘big name’ had arrived through the doors at Loftus Road and this certain individual had earned his big name for the wrong reasons.
His opening season with QPR was somewhat a success, until the very last action. In a game which will always be remembered for Sergio Agüero’s title winning goal, many forget that Barton was sent off just half an hour before. An infamous moment, where he decided to take on what seemed like the whole of Manchester, almost as a cry of attention, getting a red card and a 12 match ban from the FA in the process.
Rangers managed to stay up in that particular season, with Barton then shipped off on loan to Marseille where he picked up that very convincing French accent and in the meantime QPR were relegated. Mr Barton took to twitter to declare that
Some strange people think that I’ll be playing in the Championship next season. QPR might, I won’t.
He was wrong. He helped them with an instant return to the Premier League, and was an invaluable character in the changing room.
He won a lot of QPR fans over with his passionate and courageous performances, the experience was key in the second tier. He seemed to adapt from romantic away days at Monaco, Paris and Nice to Yeovil, Millwall and Charlton perfectly, sitting in midfield and tackling anything that moved, he looked comfortable in his hair band. Come the end of the season, Barton and Rangers were back in the big time following Bobby Zamora’s Wembley winner.
This is where the predicament of Joey Barton’s future begins, when promoted to captain, Rangers were relegated once more, and with his contract up, he now looks set to leave for good.
In such a disappointing season, there’s been lack of heart, lack of passion and lack of grit in that team, but the captain has been one of the only consistent performers, certainly in the run-in to the end of the season. Throughout the year, Barton’s tireless performances have often gone unnoticed within the QPR faithful and they only realised the gap he left whilst he was out injured or suspended.
Whenever Barton was on the pitch, he’s lifted the team. He has done a fantastic job at being captain this year, and the task to lift that team was huge. Yes, he hasn’t had a perfect season, when you look at yet another stupid sending off at Hull which cost his team a possible three points, among other incidents along the way.
You’re never going to be able to fully control Joey Barton’s discipline and you would be a fool to say otherwise. Although he has certainly calmed down, you’re always going to be used to cards upon cards when he’s in your team. Earlier this season, Barton was carded in eight consecutive matches, culminating in that sending off at the KC.
Now with QPR back in the Championship, it is very well documented the rebuilding task that faces Chris Ramsey and Les Ferdinand. A huge amount of players are reaching their final days at QPR as their respective contracts run out and we can expect a full released/retained list sometime in the very near future, where we shall find out if one The Smiths loving philosophy student/midfielder will be remaining in West London.
This rebuilding task will certainly involve a lot of youth products coming through and being thrown into the deep end next season, with the likes of Reece Grego-Cox and Darnell Furlong already tasting first team football this year under Chris Ramsey.
On the other hand, Premier League experience such as Richard Dunne, Clint Hill, Bobby Zamora, Karl Henry, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Rio Ferdinand are all set to join Barton out of the exit door, with Rob Green also potentially leaving.
This means that Rangers need some sort of experience, a bit of grit in the Championship. Obviously it isn’t the luxurious and beautiful football that the Premier League can offer, and Barton is hardly that classy, elegant player. Joey was made for the Championship. As we saw last time with QPR, Barton can be huge for them, and a team full of kids isn’t going to get them anywhere, apart from League 1.
QPR need Joey Barton, and it’s going to be a lot harder for them to replace him than they think, should he go. He is on a ridiculously large wage and if he is to stay then this wage will be reduced heavily.
Should he go, a return to Marseille would certainly be an option, as they were very fond of him over there. Although their president dismissed the rumour of a return of Joey Barton recently, claiming that the club is “solely focused on recruiting young players”.
If Barton cannot rendezvous in France, then you can only really see him moving to a promoted club. Bournemouth or Watford could possibly take him, but apart from that, the Premier League has probably seen the last of Joey Barton.
There would be no point in him moving to another Championship side, he may aswell just stay with QPR. Barton could be key for Chris Ramsey in the short term phase of the very long term stabilisation project at Rangers, and he would be an integral part of this next season. QPR need Joey Barton.