Barton's Style Would Have Helped QPR Fight

Queens Park Rangers may have spent significant money, but they simply limped to Premier League relegation. Would they have fared better with their enfant terrible?...

Last Updated: 01/05/13 at 13:22 Post Comment

Latest Articles

F365's Complete List Of January Transfers

Post comment

All the Premier League ins and outs in one place...

Football People On TV: Thierry Henry

33 comments

He's handsome, he's sexy, he was absolutely sodding amazing at the football...but our boys are a bit uncomfortable with default reverence. He's a pundit...

All Articles

Few players fail to split opinion quite like Joey Barton.

While the likes of Luis Suarez and John Terry are controversial for other reasons, their ability and performances on the field mean fans of Liverpool and Chelsea forget their misdemeanours, selectively choosing to remember what they do for their team whilst forgetting their flaws.

Barton, meanwhile, is revered by few, his constant flow of opinionated outbursts on Twitter usually enough to persuade the masses that he is rarely worth taking notice of. However, one recent such verbal cry from the on-loan Marseille midfielder saw him criticise the lack of heart and commitment in the QPR squad. For once at least, Barton was right.

There are of course many other factors that contributed to their demise, but the cold hard truth of it all is that with Joey Barton leading the R's last season, they survived in the Premier League, with Barton their third highest-rated player on WhoScored.com, registering an average of 6.9 over the course of their 2011/12 campaign.

Now challenging for the Ligue 1 title in France, Barton is enjoying a break from the English media he so despises, and could be playing Champions League football next season. Whether or not Barton has the ability to improve the current crop of QPR players is one thing, but he would certainly have added bite to their midfield (though not in Suarez's definition of the word, you'd have to hope).

At Marseille, he has primarily been utilised in a defensive midfield role, lining up alongside the more attack-minded Benoit Cheyrou most often, although the Englishman has lost his place in in recent weeks, playing for only 39 minutes of his side's last five matches. His omission has coincided with a five-game unbeaten run for Elie Baup's team, who have won four of those games and not conceded a single goal, and Barton's frustration has been plain to see, as he has picked up a late yellow card in two of his last three appearances.

That side of his game has yet to be written out of his play, and while he needs to mature in that sense, one might not be all that wrong to expect a team such as QPR, scrapping to retain their Premier League status, to receive cards borne out of frustration too.

Of course, this is not to encourage unnecessary, petty bookings, of the sort Barton is master. However, as the R's limped meekly to a six-match winless streak to confirm their relegation, they surrendered all too easily all too often, and their tally of 12 yellows and a clumsy rather than passion-fuelled red for Bobby Zamora suggests that the 'maggots' that Barton described as filling the QPR squad were all too willing to give up. Whether or not he would have cared for the cause, Barton certainly would have played as if he did - and that may well have made a difference.

That is, of course, far from the reason he is playing at Marseille. He is a technically gifted footballer who has a decent range of passing and can provide a threatening cross from set pieces. One of his three assists in Ligue 1 has come from a corner, and he may well have given QPR more of a chance from corners than the inconsistent delivery of Adel Taarabt and Esteban Granero (they even resorted to the rather unpromising prospect of Jose Bosingwa at times).

The relegated side scored just four goals from corner situations this season, a tally which only Arsenal (three), Tottenham (three) and Newcastle (one) fare worse in. Compare the R's haul to their rivals in the relegation battle and a stark story is told. Wigan (10) are behind only Manchester United (14) in the whole league, while Aston Villa are not far behind, with seven. Those goals are not the only difference between those teams and Harry Redknapp's side, but with the likes of Zamora and Chris Samba packing the box, QPR should arguably have netted more times from corners.

In a defensive sense, Barton could have also helped protect the back four more efficiently than the likes of Park Ji-Sung and Shaun Derry might have. Had he made his combined average of 4.2 tackles and interceptions in the English rather than the French top flight, he would rank behind only Stephane Mbia (5.6) of QPR's vast array of central midfielders, and if they had both played, QPR would arguably have been more difficult to scythe through, as so many teams have done this term.

On the attack, though, Barton would not have added much other than the aforementioned use at set-pieces. Far too often, he looks for a killer pass that is not on, and has resultantly completed a meagre 80.4% of his passes this season, which 12 of QPR's and 12 of Marseille's squad have topped. In fact, of outfielders last season only Peter Crouch, who often has to control passes from long balls with one touch, and Maynor Figueroa, who plays a large proportion of his passes long, misplaced more passes than Barton (413). Providing just 0.5 key passes per game and one shots per game this term, from which he contributed no goals, highlights a distinct flaw in his game.

Barton is hardly worth the trouble he causes a team. Both on and off the pitch he is often a hindrance, and the fact that he has appeared less - relatively at least - in our headlines will continue to be welcomed by many.

He wouldn't have kept QPR in the Premier League, there is little doubt about that, but the passive way in which they let their top-flight status slip from their grasp might not have been quite so astounding with him in their ranks.

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, with their live in-game data, unique player and team ratings and more...

Follow Ali Tweedale on Twitter at @alitweedale.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

O

ne of the conclusions from this list is that Man City should never buy a striker in January - good luck Wilfried Bony....

Savinator
F365's Top Ten Worst January Panic Buys

I

was there, it was embarrassing - the team looked totally unbalanced from the off, the defence was woeful and when Mikel came off injured it got even worse with nobody in front of them. Up front on several occasions we had opportunities and nobody would shoot - it was a complete farse! On the back of Salah's performance I'm glad there is talk of getting shot...

Fly1ngh1gh
Cup defeat shames Mourinho

G

reat to see Tommy Rosicky getting some love. A wonderful player. Such a pity we lost so long to injury. I was so excited when we signed him, this resurgence only makes the absences seem more of a lost opportunity.

cheshire-gooner
16 Conclusions: FA Cup Fourth Round Weekend

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Capital One Cup: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says Chelsea's Diego Costa was lucky to avoid a red card

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes Chelsea's Diego Costa was lucky to stay on the field in the Capital One Cup semi-final.

Capital One Cup: Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho insists Diego Costa does not deserve retrospective action after Emre Can stamp

Jose Mourinho thinks Chelsea's Diego Costa should be left alone to play football after a controversial outing on Tuesday.

Capital One Cup: Chelsea reach final as Branislav Ivanovic's goal sinks Liverpool

Branislav Ivanovic's extra-time goal gave Chelsea a 2-1 aggregate win over Liverpool and a place in the Capital One Cup final.

Mail Box

The Problem With FA Cup Shocks...

...is that the draw for the next round is pretty shocking. Blackburn v Stoke, anybody? We also have mails on LVG and ManUnited, who drew plenty under Fergie...

You're Man Utd, For Crying Out Loud!

Defending a 0-0 draw with Cambridge on the grounds that other teams lost to lower-league opposition is not befitting of Man United. We're inclined to agree with Mailboxers...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company