SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: Joey Barton of Newcastle United throws his shirt to the supporters at full-time following the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Newcastle United at Stadium of Light on August 20, 2011 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Joey Barton has officially signed with Queens Park Rangers on a deal that some sources are reporting is worth £80,000 per week. Barton had previously made his talks with QPR public on Twitter, as he is wont to do, but the spent some time hemming and hawing (also publicly) about whether or not he actually wanted to go through with it, leading some (read: me) to speculate that he was hoping for another club to swoop in and take him.
None apparently did, and now Barton will be plying his trade at Loftus Road. He will be making much more than he ever would have at Newcastle, if reports about Mike Ashley's strict new wage structure are to be believed. Barton had the following to say on the reason for his move:
If I didn't feel the club had ambition it would sort of defeat the point of me coming here in the first place. The fact they are able to go out and sign players who they are talking about at the minute - as well as myself - shows they are serious about taking this football club where they need to take it.
Some commentary follows the jump.
It's nice of him to throw in a little dig at Newcastle for seemingly not being able to complete signings - certainly much of the fanbase would echo his sentiments. It would make a lot more sense for him to do so if there were some semblance of truth in what he said about QPR, who have added Jay Bothroyd, missed out on Wayne Routledge (!), and spent the entire summer waffling on whether Adel Taarabt will stay or go. I'm not one to throw rocks - we are living in quite the glass house, after all - but "ambition" in this case is code for "They offered me more money."
And that's fine, by the way. I rarely begrudge a player for chasing the money. It's easy to say you wouldn't do the same, but basic human psychology (and greed, which we all possess) says that you would act differently if you were in the shoes of a highly paid athlete. It simply bothers me when players pretend it's something else that's motivated them to leave.
Again, I get it. Barton has to endear himself to his new team and their supporters, and it would be nice for him if he could play a match in St James' Park without getting verbally abused by 50,000 spectators. So he does what every departing player does on the way out: blasts an already unpopular front office that won't speak up in public to defend itself. Never mind that he has repeatedly stated that he wouldn't join a Championship club and has just latched on to an overwhelming favorite to get relegated.
As far as Newcastle are concerned, they will miss Barton. He's dangerous on the ball, works all over the field, gets under the skin of opponents, raises the intensity of any skirmish he is involved in, and never got enough credit for what he's done to help on the defensive side of the ball. However, as I've stated before, Newcastle are actually in a pretty decent position to deal with his loss. Sylvain Marveaux, Dan Gosling, and Shane Ferguson are all players capable of stepping into that spot, and if a left back is purchased, Ryan Taylor becomes a candidate as well.
All told, I won't miss the numerous distractions that came as part of the Joey Barton Experience, and I certainly won't miss reading match previews from opposing clubs that use the word "sniveling." I will miss his tenacity and, dare I say it, ambition. Say what you want about Joey, but it's clear when you watch him that he wants to win. He'll be winning a little bit less now, but I suppose every man has his price.