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Barry: Midfielder extraordinary

Barry: Midfielder extraordinary

Gareth Barry: Midfielder extraordinary.

Why extraordinary? – Because he does his job simply and assuredly and makes the game look simple – which is what the game should be about in my opinion, and has oft been said for eons. But for those who think his simplicity in fact makes him an inferior player, let them observe the sweet 180-degree turns to avoid opponents before planting the ball to the feet of someone better placed.

I’ve already seen the phrase ‘pinging passes’ used by journalists to describe his passing. And doesn’t he do it well, whether short or long passes? Rarely does a pass go astray, and virtually all his passes are perfectly delivered. But, of course, there’s another dimension to his play: his defensive qualities. How often do we see him tracking back to cover the defenders, a job well-learnt from his days as a central-defender and left-back. And, again, doing that job well.

There’s an extraordinarily under-stated aspect of his development into his role of midfield general; he made the transition from being a forgotten England left-back. How many players can we think of that have made that extraordinary move from defender into midfielder at the international level? I have thought of just one – Jimmy Crabtree. And, of course, the amazing thing is that he also was a star Villa player, and I understand that even until the Second World War his name was still on people’s lips as the greatest-ever all-round player. When he came to the Villa from Burnley in those far-off 1890’s days, he had only played at full-back, but Villa were then well-endowed with full-backs, and they moved him to the half-back line, at wing-half. And there he seamlessly resumed his international status, though he subsequently flittered between defence and midfield. He, like Barry, also occasionally played in the forward line.

Barry’s move from defence to midfield with England was not quite as easy as Crabtree’s, but that is undoubtedly because Barry has had his trials under different managers, and was frequently switched around, until the arrival of Martin O’Neill. Though Barry has still had to deputise at left-back at club level, he has been made club skipper and his main job has been established in midfield. Hence his triumphant re-entry into the England team.

“There’s at least one other former Villa player that went through a successful metamorphosis – one Gareth Southgate. An extraordinary move by Brian Little to convert him to central defence from midfield made him Villa’s most capped England player, though he did not play for England as a midfielder. Another wonderful conversion was Allan Evans (attack to central-defence).”

So there we are – it just proves that there’s life after metamorphosis! I must try it!

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

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Writer:John Lerwill
Date:Monday October 15 2007
Time: 9:00AM


The rest of the world is seeing what us villa fans knew already. If i had more energy in me, i'd put something like that on a banner and hang it from the holte. On this website last year, there were people who were saying sell Barry. Thats also extraordinary
14/10/2007 19:00:00
he's the boy!
15/10/2007 09:28:00
Ive known for years he is a quality player! I remember the days when you had Gregory in charge and you used to play him in a back 3 of a 352 formation. He IMO on current form as a CM is first on the team sheet for England! He has been the best player so everyone else should fight it out to play next to him!!!
Real Deal
15/10/2007 10:45:00
It's ironic and shows how many fickle fans we must have who are now singing his praises. I remember about 3 seasons ago when under DOL, he went through a patch of really bad form. People were on his back at the drop of a hat, calling him fat barry, saying he should be sold and all this rubbish. Despite the fact that he'd had good seasons before and good seasons since, i think it's important to note that even the best players in the world go through some bad form and if you get behind them, they can turn it around...
15/10/2007 11:51:00
What I did not like, was Joe cole not using Gaz Baz. He would rather loose the ball than pass to the player in his mates possition. However he was still motm. Well played!!
15/10/2007 20:43:00
Very good article. It has taken Gareth a long time to get there, but there can be no doubting that he's now well and truly arrived. He's in the driving seat as long as his position in the England team is concerned, after proving to the nation that he's more than capable of playing at the very highest level.
16/10/2007 13:21:00
i thing F.Lampard make suite with G.Barry more S.Gerard , Because Gerard missed position and make higher risk . i am villa fan but i like the way Lamp play more Gerard if Mcca use Barry +Lamp we ll up more potentian and effective attacking than ever, and formation 4-3-3 is more quite good than 4-4-2
16/10/2007 15:59:00
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