Writer: Mike Field
Date:Sunday August 31 2008
Speaking prior to todays draw with Liverpool, Gareth Barry has set his sights on having an extended run in the UEFA Cup.
He was also probably looking forward to getting the Liverpool match out of the way so he can concentrate on his football again.
As we all know Villa face PFC Litex Lovech from Bulgaria in the next round of the UEFA Cup and will need to dispach another unknown team for - well for me at least - in order to progress to the Group Stages.
After the draw was made, Barry said on the official site:
'It's important for this club to be back in the UEFA Cup. It's nice for the fans to experience European football again and a club like ourselves should be playing in Europe year in, year out.
'The earlier rounds will set us up nicely and give the lads a bit of experience in travelling away from home.
'We've got to get used to playing two games in a week and that's why it was important for the manager to add to the squad this summer. Hopefully he can add more.
'This is a big tie for us because we're aiming to get into the group stages. Obviously we don't know too much about them but we'll go there and treat them with respect. We'll do our homework and hopefully our form will be good going into the tie.'
Speaking specifically about the Liverpool saga, Barry added:
'There's been a lot of speculation over the summer but I just want to concentrate on my football now. I'm at Aston Villa and I'm giving 100 per cent.
'The fans have been brilliant, especially at Villa Park and all I can do is give 100 per cent for them and the club and the fans will appreciate that.'
There's no doubt things he wished he'd handled better, but as fans will have seen from the match, or will see on the highlights later - his commitment to us is not in question and whilst he certainly isn't displaying the form of last season yet, that will come as he regains full fitness from his stop/start pre season.
Liverpool thought they would give us a spanking today, given only 'one' player of ours would potentially get into their star studded team but even when we gave them a chance and took our natural fullbacks, we were still the more likely to take all points.
We are improving, and we are getting there. Unfortunately for Liverpool, without Gerrard they are very, very average.
And before they all crow about injuries being the excuse. Young wasn't exactly at his best today and was anonymous for most of the game. And given Gabby's impact today, we were playing with 10 men from the start.
Times are a changing folks, we just need a little more time.
Date:Sunday August 31 2008
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