The curtain has come down on a dramatic Barclays Premier League season and an enthralling final day of the season as Manchester City overhauled their city rivals to become English champions for the first time since 1968.
Mark Hughes’ Queens Park Rangers side managed to stay up on the last day in a tough game with eventual champions Manchester City, but Joey Barton could have easily cost his team the game.
The action at the Etihad Stadium will live long in the memory of most – partly for Joleon Lescott’s error that almost cost City the title, partly for Sergio Aguero’s stunning late winner, but also for the antics of everyone’s “favourite bad boy” Barton.
Barton is the epitomisation of a polarising figure. Some fans can appreciate his passion and his will to win, but most others consider his behaviour on and off the pitch a disgrace to the game. With QPR level at 1-1 in a vital game for both teams, Barton inexplicably elbowed Carlos Tevez (for which he saw a red card), but instead of accepting the red card and leaving the field of play, he then proceeded to kick Sergio Aguero and headbutt City captain Vincent Kompany before Micah Richards physically dragged him from the field.
The fact is that Barton could have cost QPR their Premier League status. He is a lucky that Bolton failed to beat Stoke and therefore went down to the Championship. But what does the future hold for the much maligned star?
Manager Mark Hughes was evidently despairing at Barton’s actions yesterday. Hughes said after the game that “I’m really happy for everyone at the club because, as far as I’m concerned, we will never be in this situation again while I am manager.” If Hughes is to take QPR forward, Joey Barton should not be in the club’s plans.
QPR have to build on this season and make steady progress in their second season. They can’t really afford to carry passengers – especially a player who many would consider to be a total liability. Barton could be hit with a huge ban from the FA which may limit his participation in the early stages of next season. Hughes’ patience may already have worn thin and QPR may be trying to offload Barton in the summer transfer window. The problem is – who on earth would take him now?
A plethora of managers have tried to turn Barton around. Whilst he enjoyed a somewhat brief renaissance last season with Newcastle, his petulant actions and lack of self control continue to hinder the players around him. Barton’s career appears to be heading towards an early end at just 29. Regardless of QPR’s anticipated efforts move him on, there will always be a Premier League manager looking to reform the villain of the piece.
Unfortunately, Barton’s track record of bad behaviour is a huge indication that he will never change. Eventually it will catch up on him and his slide down the footballing pyramid will commence.
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