Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back

On working with Glenn Hoddle, QPR’s new assistant coach

I’ve probably spoken to Glenn more than anyone. He’s one of the last England managers any of us enjoyed watching – they actually had a couple of decent sides who played decent football. I’m yet to have a discussion with him about a certain spiritual belief which no doubt will pop up from time to time just because I like to prod and poke people just to see where their comfort zones are.

He’s a really interesting fella. He’s a different pair of eyes – and also sometimes a different voice. I’m not saying the Gaffer [Harry Redknapp], Joe Jordan or Bondy’s [Kevin Bond’s] voices get a bit tiresome but when you hear a certain voice over a long period of time, just to have that freshness of voice or eyes or opinion can just sometimes give a little bit of a boost to the place.

We’re very lucky we’ve had two England managers as assistants or coaches. Steve McClaren was very impactful [in the early months of last season] and I think if Glenn can have the same impact as Steve we’ll be in a good place.

On being captain and talking to referees when Clint Hill is not in the side

That’s not necessarily a good thing where I’m concerned. It does allow you to meet them before the game. It’s a part of my game I think I need to work on because occasionally I think in the past I’ve been guilty of getting a little bit irate towards referees. The last time I was captain here I was guilty of trying to do everything for everyone. Playing vice-captain to Hilly was a great learning experience.

On his first game back in the Premier League after two years

I can’t remember the last one [when he was sent off against Man City the day they won the title]! It’s been a strange journey. I got to go to France through it [with Marseilles] and a lot’s changed. The maturity in a performance, hopefully, over the course of a season will prove that. Obviously, it’s easy for me to say a lot’s changed, you’ve changed as a person, you’ve changed as a player, but it’s down to me to prove that. I’m confident my actions will show that.

I’m just happy to be playing, certainly when you think about my last game in the Premier League. It was great for me just to shut that down and get that ghost out of the closet a little bit because it always lingers until you get back and playing. A lot of people didn’t think I’d ever be back and playing at this level.

On Rio Ferdinand’s initiation singing

He got up and sang his song – albeit he wasn’t as good as we all thought he was. It was some really bad rap song. I don’t know if it even constitutes singing, it was more like talking. There were a few of us trying to get him to sing again because we were arguing on technicalities that he hadn’t actually sung but he wouldn’t have it. He says that’s his style of singing and that’s a legitimate style.

On Ferdinand arriving from Manchester United

I thought he looked really, really good in there at sweeper. He’s a quality performer. A lot of criticisms have been levelled at him. He was maybe used as a bit of a scapegoat for Man United’s season, but I said to him when Man U got beat [by Swansea]: ‘It looks like Van Gaal might be back on the phone for you.’ Getting beat at home at Swansea … maybe he’s not the genius everybody thought he was.

On QPR’s game on Sunday, Harry Redknapp’s first game at White Hart Lane since leaving Spurs

Being Tottenham manager and feeling he was a bit unlucky to get sacked … I’d imagine he’d like to get one over on them. But they’ve got a new manager in Pochettino again this season – Spurs tend to have a new manager at the start of every year.

On QPR hopes of staying up

We don’t really have any of the characters the fans fell out with or people didn’t like – the mercenary kind of figures, the accusations that those players were abundant in the dressing room. The bookies have got us 2-1 to go down, I think everybody expects us to go down. But we’re confident as a group. We’re confident the manager will bring the right kind of players in, he’s got a track record of doing it, then it’s our job to gel as a team and settle in the leadership characters within there to make us as tough as we can possibly be.

We stayed up with 37 points the year I was here last time by the skin of our teeth and, in my opinion, I don’t think we had as tight-knit a bond and as tight a unity between the players and the supporters and I don’t think we had the same quality.

We’ve fought long and hard to get to the Premier League, leaving it until the last minute of the play-off final. A lot of people thought Derby, rightly so, should have won that game. But we’re here, we’ve earned the right to be here  and we have to make the most of it. We’re here to stay.

This is a transcript of Joey Barton speaking after the match against Hull last weekend

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