Gareth Barry? Come on, who was seriously excited about that signing when it was first muted. The clearest image of Barry’s career is his lack of pace when being sped past by Mezut Ozil in the World Cup in 2010. He’s past it, that was the common perception. But Evertonians should know different, if you remember 1986 the abiding memory of Diego Maradona’s wonder goal is a certain defensive midfielder being left in his wake, was he past it? That Peter Reid went on to continue to be a driving force in a title winning team shows the quality that he still had, even at that age. And so it is with Gareth Barry.
To be fair it only took one game for perceptions to change, that dominating debut against Chelsea, with a goal line clearance possibly the defining moment of his season. With that one game Barry showed that he wasn’t here for an easy ride, he was a man with something to prove. Subsequent interviews told that story explicitly, he felt Manuel Pellegrini had side-lined him without giving him a chance, and the felt his previous input into the title winning team had been forgotten too quickly.
But back to the season just finished, let’s look at some facts:
32 appearances, all starts, and every game he was eligible for, that’s a very good return for a 33 year old
3 goals, 4 assists, 4th in the team in key passes, not bad for a player with a focus on defending.
86.8% pass success rate, and 1st in the team for average passes per game (67.4), way ahead of 2nd place, this demonstrates what a key part of Roberto Martinez’s new world Barry was.
And 4th in the most fouled list, ahead of Kevin Mirallas and the like. Again, not what you’d expect from a defensive player but it shows that he’s in the mix, getting stuck in in the heart of the midfield.
An impressive season from a consummate professional, and an impressive man. We can only hope that Martinez can persuade him to continue on the journey with him.