Gareth Barry: arguably more important for England than he is City

Usually when you talk about players in Gareth Barry’s mould then comments like “he keeps things simple” and “he brings the best out of his team-mates” come to mind. When I see Barry play I often describe him as a neat footballer. His performances in an England shirt have made him a regular starter in Fabio Capello’s side, perhaps one of the first names on the team sheet, but is the midfielder shining more for England than he does at Manchester City?

Rarely can it be said today that a player plays better for England than he does for his club, but I get the feeling Barry does that and is important to England given the injury problems of Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick struggling to show his worth. However, with Barry it seems that with all the star names that City has, added to the way the Eastlands outfit plays, his role is undermined and if anything he seemed to shine more when he was an Aston Villa player for such a long time. Part of the problem may be the form of Nigel de Jong and the fact that it seems hard to get both de Jong and Barry playing to the top of their game if they are both starters. This leads me to point towards Barry’s England form because he is currently the main holding midfielder- and is clearly highly rated by Capello. Barry has played a hand in solving the Steven Gerrard-Frank Lampard dilemma and his simplicity in winning the ball and setting the team on their way has been crucial to both the defence and the more attacking midfielders.

Tactically speaking, a high percentage of Barry’s role involves a good passing ability and Barry is equally adept at short and long ball passing. This is crucial to England’s World Cup hopes because they are likely to come across teams that will not be as easy to play through as the countries you come across in qualification. Even though a textbook would have it that the Manchester City man’s position is usually described as defensive, Barry has turned that notion on its head- he can play defensively but has the game to influence what happens further up the pitch with his passing and his appreciation of how Gerrard, Lampard and the likes of Aaron Lennon effect proceedings.

Anyone who is an ardent Gareth Barry fan will notice that it took him seven years to notch up nine England caps, but he has now raced to 36. Being consistently picked must give him the confidence to play the way he frequently does for the national team. At City there is much more focus on the players who were brought in during the summer of 2009, like Barry, because they all came with a big price tag and that naturally increases the attention put on those players rather than the so-called lesser names. City is now a glamour club and in personality terms a player like Barry is suited to the disciplinarian nature of Fabio Capello. Obviously I do not know Barry but he seems a timid person in the public eye and, much like Capello wants, he plays with the correct attitude and seems to have a clean reputation off the pitch. Such has been his rise as an international player that being mentioned for the England captaincy shows how far he has come.

Ultimately Barry may still prove to be a good signing for City and it looks like he is working out how he can make the best use of his talents due to the influx of midfielders at Eastlands. When he pulls on an England shirt he plays as if the national team play a game every week. There is clarity in his responsibility. Possibly two of England’s best players at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups were unsung heroes- and midfielders. In Japan Nicky Butt had a great tournament and four years ago, in Germany, Owen Hargreaves was one of the few players who really made an impact. It would not be surprising if Gareth Barry continued that pattern in a successful England team this summer.

What do England fans and Manchester City fans think of Gareth Barry?

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