It would be interesting to read Gareth Barry’s autobiography of 2008. The England midfielder had a strong finish to the season with Aston Villa, handed in a transfer request, got caught up in a massive tug-of-war between the Midlands club and Liverpool, got dropped from the first team, played in the reserves, came back into the first team, looked like he was going to Anfield and then declared that he was staying at Villa Park. It’s now almost time for him to face the club he nearly joined this summer.
The Guardian report that the player is looking forward to Sunday’s match and is ready to give his all in the claret and blue of Martin O’Neill’s team. One might think that he’ll be harbouring regrets about a missed opportunity to play in the Champions League at this stage of his career, but he seems pretty positive and focused on the campaign ahead.
Barry, speaking publicly about the situation for the first time since the move to Anfield fell through, said: “Will Sunday be strange? I am 100% for Villa. That’s all I’ll be doing. That won’t be strange at all … Will the fans be behind me? All I can do is give 100% for the club. That is all the fans will want to see anyway. I am sure that will be enough.”
Barry, who has two years remaining on his Villa contract, admitted: “It has been a long summer. There was continuous speculation but I feel I am strong enough mentally and I’ll be fine with it all now. I always take things a season at a time. This speculation happened at the end of last season and it has been decided I’ll be staying at Villa. I’ll take this season now, concentrate on that and hopefully we can improve on last season.
“Do I feel hung out to dry over what has happened? That is what the football business is all about. I am contracted to Villa. They set a fee and it wasn’t matched. Rules are rules.”
Football’s a funny game and it would be no surprise to see the 26-year-old score the winning goal against the Reds, especially with his friend Steven Gerrard missing through injury. It will also be interesting to see how Rafael Benitez and Martin O’Neill react to each other after the latter was critical of the Spaniard’s supposed attempts to unsettle his player. Will the pair kiss and make up?