Writer: Mike Field
Date:Friday September 19 2008
With the summer shennanigans behind him, against Litex Lovech Gareth Barry entered our record books as he made his 400th appearance for the club.
Very few would've put money on him reaching that milestone with Rafa Jones and the Chuckle Brothers confusing themselves over their interest in our former captain.
It was probably fitting that he scored on his 400th appearance aswell, with a well taken penalty.
Speaking to the Mail after the match, Barry said:
"It was a nice way to mark my 400th game. Someone said to me before the game that it was my 400th but I wasn`t so sure. I think there may even have been one or two missed off!
"But it`s a proud achievement. I don`t know how many other players have done it for Villa so it is something to look back on and to be proud."
You have to wonder if he will stick around long enough to get near the record holder Charlie Aitken don't you. 541 matches, over 17 seasons between 1959 and 1976.
You have to say it's unlikely as we all assume Barry's future will be back at the forefront come January, and then specifically at the end of the season - but this is football stranger things have happened.
As to the Lovech match itself, and his own fitness, Barry says the pitch was very deceptive. It may have looked good given the amount of rain they had had, but it was very heavy, and although he doesn't go so far as to use it as an excuse, it had to have played some part in our dire performance given the passes we all saw fall short.
"The pitch was heavier than it looked. It looked fine on top but they had clearly had a lot of rain and it was heavier than we would have normally expected at this time of year.
"It`s difficult when your pre-season is disrupted but I have played a fair bit now and I feel I am up to speed.
"We have got a lot of matches coming up and we seem to be playing a lot.
"I think most people know I want to be involved in every match that I can.
"It`s up to the manager if he feels I am not up to it and at the moment I am coping okay."
So what for the future then? Are we going to have players moaning at the number of games we have to play, or will we be blaming a hectic Cup schedule for a drop in league form come Xmas?
"That`s what we are in it for.
"If you are playing a lot of games you are being successful.
"As far as I am concerned, the UEFA Cup is definitely a competition we want to be involved with.
"I think you benefit from the experience of playing against foreign opposition.
"It is not a regret but I would have liked to have played in the competition more with Villa because I think it does help your development as a player.
"People such as Craig Gardner will be learning all the time.
"It is tough sometimes because you are away from your families for some time but if that is what comes with success, we won`t be moaning about it."
Date:Friday September 19 2008
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