by Josh Green

Gareth Barry – “He’s too slow”, “Overweight”, ”Doesn’t do anything and always gives the ball away.”  If this is what you think, then allow me to educate you on this fantastic and criminally under-rated footballer.

I often hear people saying that they can’t understand how Barry gets into the Manchester City team and that he should never play for England again. I have to assume that they are either only watching the highlights of games or are solely impressed by midfielders like “Scotty” Parker, who runs around like an over excited Yorkshire Terrier, chasing a squirrel around a local park. The reason Parker makes last ditch tackles, runs around like a mad man and comes off the pitch covered in mud, is because he is incapable of reading the game, poor at retaining the ball and lacks any tactical and positional awareness. The complete opposite in fact to Premier League champion Gareth Barry.

Barry, who played 34 times for City in the league last season, may lack pace, but he makes up for his lack of physical speed with his speed of thought. He snuffs out danger quickly and then picks a clever or simple pass to a team mate to start an attack. The 31 year old is crucial to the way the Champions play. He provides a reliable shield in front of the defence, but it is his passing attributes that are often overlooked. Barry can ping  Xavi Alonso- esque passes across the field and also play quick neat one touch passes in the “tika taka” style.

I understand some football fans will never be able to appreciate a player of Barry’s ilk, however he is appreciated immensely within the Manchester City squad.  Last season, World Cup winner David Silva voted for Barry as City’s player of the year. Roberto Mancini has also called for the midfielder to be made England captain.

The Blues missed Barry’s presence against Dortmund in the Champions League. He would have been a calming influence during the frantic battle between the champions of England and Germany and I expect to see him bossing the midfield in City’s next Champions League game against Eredivisie Champions Ajax.

I really do hope I have managed to educate some people about what a great player Gareth Barry is and how important he is to one of the best teams in the world. Still some narrow minded individuals will bring up the time Mesut Özil elegantly glided past an unfit Barry in the 2010 World cup, but that really is a straw man argument. Perhaps if Gareth Barry had a more exotic name like “Andre Javi-Alves” and was Brazilian he would be rated by those who still don’t understand how he gets into Man City’s team.

I will leave you with a few Gareth Barry stats from last season 2011-12

Total Passes – 2217
Pass completion % – 85.88%
Aerial 50-50 win% – 66%
Ground 50-50 win% – 56%
Total tackles – 85
Tackle Success – 70.59%

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