Joey Barton’s late summer move to Queens Park Rangers will have come as a surprise to a number of football fans, and having been linked with a move to both Arsenal and Liverpool, even Barton himself will have considered the risks. Barton was influential in winning Newcastle promotion back to the Premier League in 2010 and was able to replicate such form again last season, which was reported to have caught the attention of a number of other clubs. Queens Park Rangers also owed much of their Championship success to one man, namely one Adel Taarabt, whose 19 league goals helped his club secure promotion to the Premier League after fifteen years in the lower divisions. Barton’s arrival at Loftus Road could go one of two ways: in sharing a number similar qualities to Taarabt, the two could form a partnership to be reckoned with; while on the other hand, this could well be a car crash waiting to happen.
While Taarabt has established himself as a ‘fan favourite’ at QPR, Joey Barton was also hugely popular among Newcastle fans and claims he was forced out of the club having publicly criticised the board over the summer. While big personalities are a necessity in the dressing room, both Barton and Taarabt may clash when it comes to ‘leading’ the side in a game. Taarabt is currently captain at QPR, and though is unlikely to change since Barton’s arrival at the club, the wealth of Premier League experience that Barton has obtained over the years may provide reason to think his role at the club to me more important than others, Taarabt incuded.
Both Barton’s and Taarabt’s commitment to their clubs has been brought in to question over the summer period, as Taarabt openly seeked a move away from London to Paris Saint-Germain, and Barton publicly criticised the Newcastle board knowing such outburst were unlikely to go unsanctioned. While Barton will be greeted by a different set of fans at QPR, both players will be desperate to convince any skeptics of their commitment to the club, and to keep the club in the Premier League this season. Neil Warnock may be have concerns that the outspoken behavior of both players in the past may reemerge over the course of the season, but a Twitter ban and a waving of interest from other clubs should prevent any real issues arising, at least for the time being.
Where the players perhaps do differ, is in their roles as footballers on the field. Taarabt is known for his contribution through goals and assists, while Barton is recognised for his ‘tough-tackling’ and work-rate help his side. While Barton is known for getting forward, in over 80 league appearances for Newcastle the midfielder only bagged himself 7 goals. Taarabt is often deployed on the flanks at QPR, and Warnock will be hoping the Moroccan international can replicate the kind of form he showed in the Championship last season, as this could prove to be crucial in his sides bid to remain Premier League status. It would seems as though there is room for both Taarabt and Barton to play in QPR’s midfield, and should such a partnership flourish, then Warnock’s hopes of avoiding relegation will be given a huge boost. Should personalities clash, or fans get on the backs of either player, then we could see some difficulties emerge both in the dressing room, and in turn, on the field at Loftus Road.
QPR host Newcastle United on Monday night, and Barton will be hoping to make an impression against his former club. The midfielder has insisted that while he loved the fans and his time at Newcastle, a move away from St James’ Park became inevitable once he was made available on a free transfer. Some Geordies are likely to see Barton’s move as another key player ‘jumping ship’, and we can probably expect a reaction from some of the away fans when the sides meet. So long as it is only the away end that are giving Barton stick, then Warnock will not be too concerned. If, as the season progresses, Barton and Taarabt fail to form an effective partnership in QPR’s midfield, or worse still, appear to have established some kind of rivalry, then The Hoops’ boss will almost certainly have his work cut out.
Agree or disagree? Are Taarabt and Barton a ‘car crash waiting to happen’? Let me know your thoughts either below or @sixthofficial at Twitter!