Rafa should keep faith with galvanised Spaniard and use the £15m elsewhere

FanCast guest columnist
Des Malone wonders if Rafa
really needs to look to Gareth Barry in the summer, given the sparking form of
Xabi Alonso this season.

From the sublime at the Bernabeu to the ridiculous at
the Riverside and in short it has defined our season. Our chances of Premier
League success are all but over, leaving the Champions League as our only
potential avenue for silverware. It is certainly within our grasp and surely
that has to be now our No.1 focus.

Don't get me wrong I am disappointed as the next man
at our failure to maintain our impressive start to the season, but let's face
it we were always up against it. Unlike United we don't have the ability to go
and fork out £30m for a striker in the summer, or another £17m on a couple of
young reserves in January, we are a club who is operating under constraints and
subsequently having to make do with those at our disposal. It has been harsh on
Rafa and is it any wonder that he has seemed to be under strain in recent

Like Ed Jeffery's article on this very site
yesterday it is fair to say that amidst the obvious disappointment that we are
likely to fall short, there are a lot of positives that can be taken from this
season. Year on year we seem to get closer and closer and this season alone we
have proven that we are a match for our nearest rivals. The very fact we have
gone through this season largely without Fernando Torres who has been crippled
all campaign by injuries gives me tremendous optimism looking ahead. We are not
far away at all in winning that elusive Premier League title and provided that
money is spent wisely in the summer then there is no reason why we can't build
on the obvious progress we have made
this season.

There is no question that the summer will be an
interesting time and with Rafa now seemingly given the freedom to buy who he so
wishes, with Parry stepping down, it will be interesting to see who he actually
brings in. Speculation has been rife that Rafa's first port of call will be to
make a move for Gareth Barry having failed to capture him last summer. Why I
rate the Villa man, I have to confess I failed to understand why Rafa was so
keen to bring him to Anfield, especially at the cost of Xabi Alonso who was to
be sacrificed to make way for him. I appreciate the Spaniard was having a poor
time of it last year, but this campaign he has rediscovered his brilliant form
and arguably has been our most consistent performer this season. It is like
Xabi was galvanised by the fact that the club were willing to let him leave and
was vowing to prove Rafa wrong – he certainly done so and to an extent that I
feel a move for Barry shouldn't be contemplated, especially as there are other
areas where that £15m can be spent elsewhere, notably on a full back or a much
needed understudy for Fernando Torres.

So am I alone in thinking that a probable bid for
Gareth Barry will prove a waste of resource, especially given the form of
Alonso this season, or do you see the Villa man having a big part to play in taking
us up to the desired level?