Gareth Barry is often referred to as Mr Average, even his name reeks of uninventiveness. His apparent lack of charisma both off the pitch and in playing style ensures he is a easy target for the England boo boys and even the Manchester City fans were unsure of him before the start of this campaign. However under the guidance of Roberto Mancini, the boy from Hastings is arguably rivalling David Silva as the league leaders' most important player with his crucial interceptions that allows the whole team to function effectively as a unit whilst even chipping in with the odd goal and assist of his own. With his 1940's silver-screen looks he appears at odds with the gel-spiked, orange-booted wannabe-models around and his old-fashioned elegant adherence to simplicity alienates him further. He is a one-off - the perfect blend of modern and old skool - and should be treasured as the rarity he is. He is anything but average...
On Saturday morning John Hartson described 'GazBaz' as City's most 'English' player alluding to the midfielders apparently typically English style of play. I'm sorry John but you couldn't be more wrong if you tried. Barry is arguably City's most continental player who just happens to be English. He is the Premier League's Pirlo who possesses the 'Italian' trait of perfect ball-retention, doing so in his simple unassuming manner. Despite not being blessed with electric pace he can read a game as well as anybody in the league as well as possessing the happy knack of being able to pull out fancy footwork in order to emerge with the ball in situations that seem impossibly tight. City's elegant heavyweight acts as a much needed safety net in such an attacking side, constantly covering players positions when they venture forward consequently allowing the flair players to express themselves. His tactical awareness is his main strength and it is no surprise that both Roberto Mancini and Fabio Capello hold him in such high regard given the meticulous attention to detail which is undoubtedly the Italian way. For them Gareth Barry is a dream player.
Barry is arguably City's most continental player who just happens to be English. He is the Premier League's Pirlo who possesses the 'Italian' trait of perfect ball-retention, doing so in his simple unassuming manner.
Two players have displayed noticeable improvement in the City squad this season, James Milner and Mr Consistent himself who are playing with the passion, drive and finesse that made them hits at Villa Park. They seem to spur each other on, constantly delivering continually improving performances almost competing with each other to be the best which all adds up very nicely for Mancini, City and England fans alike. The pair could well be in contention to fill two of four midfield slots in England's midfield next summer.
There has been a constant steam of quality players flooding through the doors at the Etihad since Barry's arrival, names such as Robinho, Carlos Tevez, David Silva and Sergio Aguero have all played alongside the former Villa man who has had to both adapt and up his game dramatically at his new club as he is no longer a big fish in a small pond, unsurprisingly he has stepped up to the plate. He has eradicated his tendency to act almost as a 'quarter back' aimlessly spraying sixty-yard passes that only find touch, he now plays neat easy balls that keep moves flowing, allowing City to maintain their high tempo game. Previously his annoying tendency to commit pointless fouls in dangerous areas by clambering over opponents has long gone, he now rarely rashly dives in and when he does he almost always comes away with the ball. As a consequence of these improvements he has become a far player better of late, he looks a yard quicker, a split second sharper, and a whole lot hungrier than he previously has and it comes as no surprise that in City's best two performances this season, the 6-1 away at United and the 5-1 away at Spurs, Barry has been in the side.You can see that his confidence is growing week by week and his thunderous strike in the win at Bolton set the tone for what is proving to be his best ever season.
As crazy as this sounds he is fast becoming England's answer to Xabi Alonso with his pinpoint whipped passes to one of City's forwards be it, Aguero, Dzeko or Silva. The technique he adopts is superb, he wraps his foot around the ball and just as it looks like he is going to play it to the full back he instead sends it forward beautifully. One of the best compliments that can be paid to Barry is how much City miss him when he's not there, his link play from defence to attack gives the Blue's the perfect platform in order to build momentum and tear open teams at will.
Joey Barton thinks he is a better player than 'GazBaz', famously ripping into him earlier this year, all i can say is that i have seen them both play at close quarters and Barry is 100% better. If you look at the pairs current situations the current England man is now a mainstay in the best team in the country whereas the one-time capped Barton is currently more famous for his outbursts on Twitter than he is for captaining QPR.
One of the best compliments that can be paid to Barry is how much City miss him when he's not there..
The only problem Gareth has is that he does not revel in the limelight, he is unselfish, which is an invaluable asset for his team but as a result he fails to receive the recognition he deserves. Attacking players such as Aguero and Balotelli are earning all the plaudits with City breaking goal-scoring records left right and centre this year, though none of it would be possible without Barry, The Blue's success so far this season stems from the midfield with the solidity of Mancini's midfielder marauder. It's only when you watch him regularly that you start to truly understand what he brings to a team and what respected managers consistently see in him but more than anything it's the fact that others fail to see how important he is that makes me appreciate him that little bit more.
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