Joey Barton, an outspoken and often hostile presence on social media, declared famously in May that he would not be playing in the Championship.
Saturday he was forced to eat his words in a bit of an embarrassing return.
After tweeting that Queens Park Rangers may be relegated but “I won’t” in April, Barton started in QPR’s opening fixture of the English second division season against Sheffield Wednesday.
Barton, on loan at French Ligue 1 side Marseille last season, declared during his April Twitter rant that he no longer wished to play for QPR and he desired to stay in France.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp said that Barton’s desires have not changed but he will continue to play the 30-year-old midfielder regardless.
“Joey has been here good as gold. A great attitude and has not been a minutes problem” said Redknapp the day before the match. “He still wants to go Marseille but, while he is here, if he is good enough to play he will.”
Redknapp also confirmed there’s mutual interest in Barton’s return to France. “He did great at Marseille. They qualified for the Champions League and they would like to take him back.”
The Rangers fans applauded Barton when he was substituted off, and tweeted after the match “Didn’t expect nor do I deserve that reception. Many thanks #humbled”