Martin O’Neill is a spiky character, yet it’s fair to say that the majority of Aston Villa fans love him for it. Despite doing his utmost to try and keep Gareth Barry at the club, it appears that it’s a case of ‘when’, not ‘if’ the skipper will jump ship. The ‘when’ depends on the thrifty football club that is Liverpool FC rummaging around in those deep pockets and stumping up another few million to secure the midfielder’s signature.
The Express and Star also report that the Villans manager is optimistic ahead of next season, admitting that losing Barry is going to be a big blow, but insisting that his team can still kick on and claim another top six finish, if not better. That’s what we like – a positive mental attitude.
O’Neill said: “Gareth and I had a little chat when he got back from holiday and he has said he would fancy going to Liverpool.
“That’s obviously a big setback to us, but the offer from Liverpool is just not acceptable.
“It’s very frustrating. We finished sixth last year, he was a major part of that and he has been a splendid player for us for some considerable time.”
“If Manchester United are having a struggle keeping hold of (Cristiano) Ronaldo, I guess the rest of us have a bit of trouble,” he added.
“It’s difficult (to break into the top four) but that’s what you’re in the game for. If it’s without Gareth Barry, we’ll still have a go.”
Could it possibly be the case that Villa can challenge the likes of Liverpool next season for a top-four placing? Or will they do well simply to maintain sixth position, especially with Spurs and Manchester City splurging the cash on some decent players? The competition has never been fiercer with so much foreign investment finding it’s way to these shores.