Another deadline day has passed and, working at Sky, I managed to catch most of it. It should be a national holiday for the rest of you. I didn’t expect much from us, to be honest. I was very pleased we’d seemingly done the majority of our business early. The signing of Libor Kozak surprised me, as I thought we were pretty well set up attack-wise and until the day before I hadn’t heard any rumours regarding him. Nevertheless, I welcome him and obviously hope he does well.
With Bodymoor Heath being pretty quiet on deadline day, I focused on the move of a former Villa player, Gareth Barry. Would he have benefitted us in any way? Would the Villa fans have welcomed him? Would he have fitted into Paul Lambert’s vision?
Gareth Barry is one of my favourite Villans of all time. He is a classy player who gave us around a decade of service. To be honest, I’ll never understand why he gets such stick when returning to Villa Park when James Milner gets a hero’s welcome: Milner gave us two seasons and then bolted when he was indispensable to the team. Yes, Gareth’s piece in the paper was ill-advised but players sometimes take bad advice from their agents (no offence, Christian). Barry soon ditched his advisor and gave us another year of tremendous football. He went to a team that would obviously be challenging for honours, he’s played in the Champions League and, most importantly of all, he has won both the FA Cup and the Premier League. I think he was justified in his move.
Anyway, that’s my rant on his treatment over. Back to the aforementioned questions. A new manager has come in at City and doesn’t seem to rate Gareth Barry. It was well advertised that he was available and it was rumoured that we were offered him. He has ended up at Everton on loan, although Manchester City were allegedly after a permanent move. Should we have tried to bring our former skipper back?
Would he have benefitted us in any way?
I can see both the fors and the againsts in response to this question. There were many times up until February when we were crying out for an experienced head and a bit of leadership in the middle of the park but I actually think that need is no longer so great. The acquisition of Sylla made us much harder to beat and Westwood and Delph now seem to have a maturity and assurance about them that means the need for an experienced head in the middle of the park is not as pressing as it once was.
Westwood also does the job that Barry does – and young Ashley does it very well. Players of the ilk of Barry and Westwood often go unnoticed but every good team has a player like this. Stan Petrov’s great work often went unnoticed and many fans only began to appreciate his contribution when he wasn’t there. Westwood recently admitted that before he came to Villa he only concentrated on his own game, without thinking entirely about the team. Now he is more adept at his positional play and his all-round awareness has come on in leaps and bounds.
I also feel that Delph has taken on a leadership role: he is very vocal and he spends a lot of the game organising and geeing the rest of the team up, which are qualities that Barry would be earmarked for.
So, in conclusion, I feel that Westwood and Delph between them cover the main aspects of Gareth Barry’s game.
Would the Villa fans welcome him?
I have already touched/ranted on this but I think if he were to put on the shirt again he would be welcomed by the fans; we are a forgiving bunch when push comes to shove. Benteke was lambasted when he handed in his transfer request but as soon as he signed the new deal all was forgotten. I believe Barry would have been forgiven and would have been appreciated for the tidy player he is.
A reason I would have liked to have seen him come back would be the chance for him to earn a testimonial. In recent times there have not been many players who have given us the years of service that Gareth has. I think this fact is often overlooked. As I mentioned previously, Milner gets a hero’s welcome but what for? In my book it’s Downing and Milner who deserve the verbal abuse Barry gets. The first chance those two got, they jumped ship. Barry compromised and stayed another season and I believe he would’ve signed a new deal and stayed for the whole of his career had we made the top four. However, we didn’t and he wanted to test himself at the highest level, which he did.
Would he have fitted into Paul Lambert’s vision?
This is where I think the whole argument for us needing Barry falls down: he doesn’t fit into the ‘Aston Villa model’ at all. Paul Lambert is yet to sign anyone over thirty and I think if he was going to it would have happened early in the year when we were in freefall. Most players who are over thirty or approaching that age have been shipped out, either permanently or on loan.
On the other hand, if Stan Petrov hadn’t been forced to retire he would have been part of the squad and playing his fair share of games. He would have been older than Barry as well.
In conclusion, I think Gareth’s time at Villa should be fondly remembered. He was a great player and a good servant. They say never go back and I think if a deal had been struck it would have benefitted Gareth more than it would have helped the club. We have a new vision and a new generation of talent and Gareth doesn’t fit in with that. I wish him all the best at Everton, except when he is playing against us – although another own goal in October wouldn’t go amiss!