Gareth Barry is Aston Villa and Aston Villa is Gareth Berry. In the midst of all the high powered signings like the Ballacks, Shevchenko’s, Gerrard’s, Henry’s, it is refreshing to know that there are players like Barry. Barry who???
After representing the U-21 squad and doing exceedingly well, Barry did make his breakthrough in the senior squad in 2000. He played 8 matches till 2003, the last year he played for England and since then has never managed to find a place in the squad.
A career trajectory comparison. He shares the record with Jamie Carragher for appearances in the U-21 squad. Carragher now plays for Liverpool and England and has represented them in 30 games.
He is on the tip of the tongue of every English manager and pundit from Hoddle to Sven to McLaren but then is overlooked when players like Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, and Michael Carrick have cemented their spots in the midfield.
A pity. When you see Barry play, you wonder why he has never donned a Three Lions jersey more consistently.He is one of England’s most versatile players. Essentially, a holding midfielder, but can play any position in defence. He is young too, only 25 years, but it seems he has been around for a long time. He has been with Villa since 1997 and is presently their captain. Under Martin O’Neill, Barry’s career has seen an resurgence. One only had to see the Villa game against West Ham last weekend to realize the impact of Barry on the game. He along with Gavin McCann shut down the West Ham attack for long spells, especially in the first half. This was West Ham, with Tevez, Cole, Zamora, and Reo-Coker.
The arrival of Owen Hargreaves in the England squad means even fewer chances of Barry ever getting a call up for England duty. However, there is hope at the club level. He is the type of player that Martin O’Neill loves. It is too early to say but this could be the beginning of a relationship like that of Sir Alex and Roy Keane, that paid dividends for both, bringing Man U to the top. Aston Villa could reap the benefit. And Barry could find his way to the English squad.
Gareth Barry stats here