TYPICAL Joey Barton.
His team just record the most stunning of victories and it’s utterly overshadowed by his attempts to hog the limelight!
Barton had been booed off by his own supporters by the time QPR mounted an unlikely comeback to secure a crucial three points in the fight for survival in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over Liverpool.
Did that chastening experience prompt a dignified silence from “captain” Barton to allow his team-mates to bask in the glory of their exploits? Fat chance.
Within minutes of the final whistle, he was once more courting cyberspace airtime to elbow his way back into the spotlight.
“Disappointed with fans booing, we’re meant to be in it together,” he tweeted, together with a more humble: “Worst I’ve ever played in my career.”
Barton’s continued self-centred view on the world sums up QPR’s troubles at the wrong end of the Premier League table this season.
Mercenaries willing to chance their arm at Loftus Road have joined players who have scrapped their way out of the Championship, and the ugly amalgamation of the two has hampered QPR during both Mark Hughes and Neil Warnock’s tenures.
But there is nothing like success to bring players together and despite Barton’s tantrum, QPR head to the Stadium of Light flush with confidence that they can overcome any obstacle after wiping out Liverpool’s two-goal advantage in the final 13 minutes.
Chief among those basking in self-belief is Djibril Cisse, the most potent weapon in a former Sunderland contingent that also includes Anton Ferdinand, Tommy Smith and Nedum Onuoha.
Cisse’s brief stay at Loftus Road has proved eventful – four games, three goals and one sending off.
Long-term, the Frenchman’s enthusiasm for the cause is likely to wane as it did at the Stadium of Light, but ominously for the Black Cats, the 30-year-old is a master at making an instant impact with his new employers.
In containing Cisse, Sunderland’s back-line will certainly need to show more resilience than they did at Ewood Park on Tuesday when the loss of John O’Shea left a previously formidable Black Cats defence looking brittle.
Admittedly, Sotirios Kyrgiakos is still well-short of match fitness after ending a two-and-a-half month wait to make his Sunderland debut.
But the Greek hardly displayed the same organisational or positional sense as O’Shea and Martin O’Neill will be desperate to have Sunderland’s defensive leader back at his disposal.
Given he was left out as a precaution, O’Shea will be expected to return to the starting line-up, as will Jack Colback after being handed a breather in midweek to recover from his battle scars.
But it is the resumption of Stephane Sessegnon’s role as Sunderland’s attacking maverick which is sure to hearten O’Neill, as he looks to prize open a Ferdinand-Onuoha central defensive partnership.
Victory over Liverpool and a draw at Everton provided ample evidence of Sunderland’s determination to succeed without the Benin international at their disposal.
But in the second half at Goodison and throughout a dismal display at Blackburn, Sessegnon’s ability to provide a spark to Sunderland’s counter-attacking style was sorely-missed.
Fraizer Campbell is the most likely contender to surrender his place to Sessegnon after enduring a horrifying evening in Lancashire where there were finally signs of the after-effects of a 17-month injury lay-off.
If Sessegnon and O’Shea return to boost the spine of a side which was missing its three integral components at Blackburn, then Sunderland have every chance of warming up for their quarter final replay with a confidence booster.
Those at the wrong end of the table will again be anxiously watching Sunderland’s fortunes after the Black Cats inadvertently handed the survival prospects of Steve Kean’s side a major shot in the arm.
But’s tough to see another of the relegation contenders breaking their back-to-back wins duck against Martin O’Neill’s men, given the Blackburn boot up the backside.
Verdict: Home win