Harry Redknapp admits he is amazed at the way Joey Barton has taken to life back at QPR and says he is now one of the most influential players in his squad.
It looked as though Rangers had seen the back of the controversial midfielder – who has grabbed unwelcome headlines for behaviour on and off the pitch.
It seemed unlikely that he would return to Championship after a loan spell in the south of France and if he did, it seemed equally unlikely he would knuckle down and prove an asset.
But the Rangers boss says that is exactly what has happened.
“Joey Barton coming back's been a big influence on the team, I have to say,” Redknapp admitted.
“I've got to be honest, I didn't know Joey before and I can't fault him, the way he's been.
“He's another one that people go 'oh no' about and I probably felt the same, but since he's been here, in the dressing room before games and at the training ground.
"I couldn't have asked for any more. He's been fantastic. It has surprised me.”
Redknapp added: “It looked like he was going to Marseille and in fairness I've been out there myself and he had a fantastic lifestyle – it's amazing there. But he's been top class here.
“His attitude has improved on the pitch. He's had his bookings. He's a competitive player, but that's how he plays the game.
“He's been excellent. He's a real driving force behind the team and he's really important in the dressing room, on the pitch and in training.
“If he wants a row with you, he'll have a row, but if he feels you respect him, he's fine. He's a Premier League player. He could play there all day long.
“I think he's enjoying his football and that's important for him and we enjoy having him here.”