Queens Park Rangers: Should QPR Keep Joey Barton?

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Queens Park Rangers: Should QPR Keep Joey Barton?
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Should Queens Park Rangers keep Joey Barton is a question more controversial than the Discovery Channel's decision to air a fake documentary during Shark Week.

Not everybody will agree on this, and everybody's opinions will most likely change on a week-to-week basis. Such is the fickle nature of form and football. However there are pros and cons to argue both sides of this argument.

Joey Barton has claimed not once, not twice, but three times he does not want to play for QPR:

He should probably avoid tarot card reading as a career after retiring from football.

A player who so vehemently professes distaste for the club he is currently playing for (even if he was on loan somewhere else at the time) could be considered a liability.

A liability in a dressing room which needs players who want the morale to improve, not deteriorate.

A liability on the field should he not put the effort in that he would have done had he been playing across the Channel.

And a liability on twitter when his thumbs begin typing things other than Morrissey lyrics.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

However despite the snide remarks on his twitter page last season, it is not just his attacks on players off the field which are cause for concern. Joey Barton has a rap sheet longer than Lindsay Lohan's, and QPR fans experienced his, shall we say, "temper tantrum" first hand on the final day of the 2012/13 season against Manchester City.

If it hadn't been for Stoke City's Jonathan Walters brace, QPR would have been relegated thanks to Monsieur Barton's reckless red mist attack on half of the boys in blue. And his actions would have been cited as the sole reason for QPR's fall from the top.

Despite the fact that it takes 37 other games for a team to finish in the bottom three.

Insulting teammates, aggressive behavior, outspoken views and a bad attitude does not make for the perfect footballer. But has he changed?

Harry Redknapp seems to think so, as he told BBC Sport:

If he stays here, fantastic. He's not been a minute's problem for me. I had never worked with him before, but he has come in and trained hard every day and showed a lot of quality in training. He was very good and his attitude and will to win was first class.

High praise indeed, especially as it is his attitude which has been one of the more questionable aspects of his career. And it's not just the manager who has been impressed by Joey.

Andrew Johnson was quoted after the game against Sheffield Wednesday saying:

With his commitment [against Wednesday], you didn't see any signs of him not wanting to be here or not wanting to play in the Championship. He is fantastic and nobody will ever question his ability, talent or commitment to the team.

With character witnesses like that, perhaps Barton has become a more positive influence on the squad.

So if the 30-year-old has had a rethink in his attitude towards the Championship, has this shown on the pitch?

If anybody watched the opening game of the season then they would have to agree that it has.

The fans showed that they were both forgiving of any indiscretions, and respectful for a battling performance which meant their "welcome back" applause as his name was read out prior to the game, turned into a standing ovation as he was subbed off.

As Paul Doyle from The Guardian reported:

While he may not have merited the cheers before kick-off, he did earn the ovation he received on leaving the pitch thanks to a performance which proved that, whatever his flaws, he has the quality to help QPR achieve promotion... His passing was impressive and one of several surges into the box led to the winning goal, his header being parried by Chris Kirkland into the path of Andy Johnson.

His performance proved that he will be a key part of QPR's promotion push (or relegation fight, it's too early to say) and that on the field he will be an asset to the club.

Off the field, he seems to be making great impressions on his new teammates and manager too.

And on his twitter account, has begun tweeting about enjoying playing football at QPR, his team, his teammates, and the fans.

And humility is not usually the subject of his social media ramblings.

His dogged-yet-classy playing style will be a great asset to a team hoping to push for promotion, and has already won many fans over whom seem to have forgiven (if not yet quite forgotten) the Man City incident and the tweets which insulted QPR and categorically stated he never wanted to step foot inside the club again.

Should QPR Keep Joey Barton

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If he continues in the vein he has started this season, keeps his head down on and off the pitch, respects the club, the players, and the fans and puts in performances like that against Sheffield Wednesday then QPR should keep Joey Barton.

However the question may well be does he want to stay? Is his new found love-in for QPR just a PR stunt? Are his performances simply for shop window sake? And has Harry Redknapp been duped into believing Barton has a great attitude like that time he was duped into buying Marco Boogers?

We will find out when the transfer window closes come September 1, if he is still there. Which, judging by my twitter feed on August 3, many Rangers fans hope he is. Do you?

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