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Barry: To Be or Not to be.....


JohnCresswell
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by Grant(aka_eddy)

....a club Legend.

Ok so much of what I’m about to write may already have been discussed and printed both in the media and amongst the fanbase, but as Barry is soon returning from England duty, it seems his decision over whether to leave is fast approaching. Here’s a closer look at what our captain needs to consider for his proposed transfer to Liverpool.

As this seems to have been dragging on for some time already most of the fanbase seem to have expressed their opinion on Barry’s potential departure. As far as I can make out there are some who would like to see him stay at all costs, a few who think he’s easily replaceable and should be sold, but the vast majority feel that whilst a player of his quality could be replaced with those kind of funds, this would be an awful time to lose him as: a) It sends out the wrong signals to our current squad and potential purchases. B) We would be strengthening a rival team that we are trying to catch up with & c) We already have an enormous amount to do in this transfer window without having to replace our captain.

Leaving aside any abuse and bias I think most Villa fans can sympathise with the temptation of joining one of the established top 4, particularly when you’ve spent 10 years at a club with 7 of them under a failing regime and never really looking like achieving your personal ambitions. Liverpool on the other hand have just been named the best team in European Competition over the last 5 years, notching up a Champions League win, runner up place and semi-final along the way, there isn’t a player alive who doesn’t want to be involved in that kind of achievement, even if their Premier League performance has never really looked like bringing any success. Gerrard is seemingly a key figure in Liverpool’s interest as the two have been great friends for some time off the field and recently have formed a very neat partnership during England duty. There is no doubt that a world class player like Gerrard groveling for your capture in the national press is a huge compliment and the two undeniably play well together. Financially I’m not sure there is that much to gain for him, we are no longer paupers and will reward our captain with a new contract and the figures will be so large any slight difference will be largely irrelevant to a player that I believe will be placing emphasis on footballing reasons.

Of course noting Liverpool’s recent European success does not tell the whole story. Once in Europe they perform well but over the same 5 year period they have in truth come extremely close to losing their Champions League place. The rules were actually changed to allow them entry as winners when they finished 5th in the league, this is after finishing 4th the previous year. In fact over the last 5 seasons they have finished 4th on 3 occassions and 3rd twice. Combine this with the boardroom instability, massive debt, doubts over transfer funds, speculation over Benitez’s future and his squad rotation policy focused on European success and it is no surprise that they are targeted as the club most likely to slip up (again) and be overtaken by one of the chasing pack. Despite Gerrard’s pleas there are also no guarantees that once at Liverpool things will go his way, this is afterall the same Gerrard who despite his own status and the protests of the media, pundits and fans alike, has spent 2 of the last 3 years playing predominantly on the wing. For a player like Barry shedding a utility tag and cementing a place in central midfield, that cannot be reassuring, doubly so when The Independent stated he would be asked to play on the left and in defence, something far more likely than the place he has finally made his own at Villa. Beyond his position on the field is the question of whether he will make the team when it counts, as he would at Villa, and a look at Peter Crouch in the Champions League semi-final shows how galling it can be to not be involved. Meanwhile Aston Villa are of course a team & club widely regarded to be amongst the chasing pack to challenge Liverpool. The national press has finally acknowledged that Lerner is the perfect investor with arguably the best manager available to break into the top 4. The atmosphere around the club is supremely optimistic and a number of young starlets are beginning to make their mark on both The Premiership and international scene.

There is no doubt that Barry has given tremendous service to Aston Villa during his 10 years but make no mistake, unlike the recent move abroad by ageing talisman Olof Mellberg, Barry’s move to a rival club at the peak of his career and a time we are making progress will obliterate the fans high opinion of him and show his loyalty never really passed it’s first true test. He has the chance to achieve legend status and quite probably become the holder of our all time appearance record, hopefully steering us through bad times and captaining us onto great times along the way. Gerrard (who crops up more than I’d like in this article) will tell of the benefits of being a one club man. He may have originally been a childhood Everton fan but has become Mr. Liverpool in the same way Barry has become Mr. Aston Villa. He of course underwent a similar transfer saga with a proposed move to Chelsea and even verbally agreed with Mourinho to the move at one point. Choosing not to go through with that, to stay at the club with seemingly less resources paid off for him and secured his worship amongst their fanbase. It may be a shame but move on from Villa and like Dwight Yorke before him, he will never have that adulation from Villa fans and certainly cannot gain it at Liverpool. It will be an extremely rare opportunity wasted, it will be something lost.

All the above not only means Barry is losing his status amongst Villa fans, taking a risk to his place and position if he moves but also potentially damaging his chances with England. His progress over the last season couldn’t really have been much better in this respect and is England’s only ever-present player this season. Barry is an England regular now and this was achieved (belatedly) with Villa through hard work and our recent progression. In this respect, I just cannot see how moving to Liverpool can help him now, maybe in the past but it is a resolved issue.

Far from being the safe option, the move to Liverpool is the gamble. Villa almost guarantees stability in the ownership, management & direction. Regular football in his preferred position has now secured a regular England place. I can understand the envy when looking at what Gerrard’s Liverpool offers and the career he has had, but if Barry is to experience the same sense of achievement it must now be done through Villa. He must be the player to lead us there, to make sure he is here to be the Captain to lift the trophies. Our chances may currently be slimmer but that gap is rapidly closing and if his career is to really mean something and last in the memory, it must remain with Aston Villa.

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Well written and thorough. Agree with it all. Good point regarding his 'loyalty' failing it's first true test. Staying at a club for 10 years is nothing when no-one worthy came calling for 9 of them. It also rings hollow that he needs CL to be an England regular when he has become exactly that and a half-time captain while being at Villa.

If he does go, and I'd now be surprised if he didn't, then I'm afraid that as a Villa fan, just so that we could say 'told you so' I can see myself hoping that it doesn't work out for him.

It may pale into insignificance alongside being a bit part player in the CL, but he really could become an all-time great at this club, and at a time when we are threatening to challenge properly he really is risking a lot.

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Really nice article matey. 100% spot on in every regard, except to say that I think the decision is made and he is off as soon as the clubs can agree a deal, no question anymore imo. otherwise, some really top points

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Sums it all up really, if he stays it shows that he believes he can achieve whta he wants at Villa. If he leaves it shows we couldn't show the ambition he wanted. I think this will drag on for ages, for him to stay we need to offer him a new contrct and he needs to sign it, that will take time.

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A well thought out article, and sums up the situation.

I guess the odds are that he will be going, but I believe it will be a mistake for his career ambitions. He might get CL earlier than at Villa, but probably not long term.

If Benitez continues his normal play 'em anywhere and when it suits, GB could find his England place in jeopardy come the world cup qualifiers. If money isn't the issue, and playing in the CL is, then just maybe he should give Villa another season and see where we are next season.

I don't subscribe to the doom merchants about MON and his transfer policy, or that RL doesn't have the cash, I think it's more that MON has a more astute eye for players and dressing room harmony, at least I hope so.

One more thing about GB, not too many seasons ago, there was a large number of posters saying he wasn't international class, too slow etc. How times change, he certainly isn't any quicker, but his game has improved and he's a steadying presence for both Villa and England.

If the Red Scousers buy him, I trust the Villa will make them pay dearly.

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there was a large number of posters saying he too slow etc

I was one of those but to be fair he was beign played left Midfield at that time and I think I \ We were right in that assesment

It seems clear that MON has brought him on as a player , hence his ever present status in the England team this season ... I still will be very very angry if part of the deal for him involves Crouch , I know MON can improve players but some things are just beyond help

We were promised a 5 year plan and loosing Barry means it will take a huge step back ..AND if the rumour is true then a 6ft 4inch can't head a ball donkey would take it even futher back ..this was going to be our " big " summer where we finally arrived and showed we meant business .. are we still confident that is going to be the case ?

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A well thought out article, and sums up the situation.

I guess the odds are that he will be going, but I believe it will be a mistake for his career ambitions. He might get CL earlier than at Villa, but probably not long term.

If Benitez continues his normal play 'em anywhere and when it suits, GB could find his England place in jeopardy come the world cup qualifiers. If money isn't the issue, and playing in the CL is, then just maybe he should give Villa another season and see where we are next season.

I don't subscribe to the doom merchants about MON and his transfer policy, or that RL doesn't have the cash, I think it's more that MON has a more astute eye for players and dressing room harmony, at least I hope so.

One more thing about GB, not too many seasons ago, there was a large number of posters saying he wasn't international class, too slow etc. How times change, he certainly isn't any quicker, but his game has improved and he's a steadying presence for both Villa and England.

If the Red Scousers buy him, I trust the Villa will make them pay dearly.

I don't subscribe to the doom merchants about MON and his transfer policy, or that RL doesn't have the cash, I think it's more that MON has a more astute eye for players and dressing room harmony, at least I hope so.

that line is paradoxical..... because -at least i hope so, means you have doubt and in fact the doom merchants as you call them ( sceptics would be more apt IMO) could be right.

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Cheers for the kind words, thought it needed an edit really (and definitely a title change) but was too busy at work. I actually knocked this up on Sunday before Barry's latest comments so hadnt really taken that into account either.

Essentially i'm trying to look at from as neutral a point as possible and just see too many question marks over Liverpool. Barry should be looking to emulate Gerrard and needs to realise that to be the star captain lifting trophies he needs to try to do it here, he simply will not receive the same satisfaction and adulation from doing it elsewhere.

I understand the playing Champions League argument but the real prize to aim for is surely to captain your side to great things as the leader and long-serving talisman of the club, not to be a squad player with a couple of years service. This opportunity Barry has to achieve something special with Villa is so rare that I just hope he realises it before it's too late.

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that line is paradoxical..... because -at least i hope so, means you have doubt and in fact the doom merchants as you call them ( sceptics would be more apt IMO) could be right.

I havent been around for a while, so please forive my ignorance on this matter

Are there really people who seriously doubt Lerner's committment, financially and personally to Aston Villa? Seems like a fairly bizarre notion all things considered.

I can sort of understand frsutration with the speed of MONs tranfer dealings, although, speaking strictly personally here, as long as he continues to get the right results who gives a flying monkeys? Know what I mean?

Strange place the interweb isnt it? Sometimes it is completely divorced from reality :D

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that line is paradoxical..... because -at least i hope so, means you have doubt and in fact the doom merchants as you call them ( sceptics would be more apt IMO) could be right.

I havent been around for a while, so please forive my ignorance on this matter

Are there really people who seriously doubt Lerner's committment, financially and personally to Aston Villa? Seems like a fairly bizarre notion all things considered.

I can sort of understand frsutration with the speed of MONs tranfer dealings, although, speaking strictly personally here, as long as he continues to get the right results who gives a flying monkeys? Know what I mean?

Strange place the interweb isnt it? Sometimes it is completely divorced from reality :D

Peter,

There are certainly a lot of posters who seem to doubt the MON/RL partnership, most however seem to be on the Villa Forum of icBrum, it's depressing to read many of the posts on there.

I agree with you wholeheartedly however, MON might be frustrating in how he operates in the transfer market and he will no doubt make mistakes, but you'd have thought the progress the club are making would make the fans pretty happy, but it seems the old saying that "much wants more" along with expectations in a too short a timescale are a major factor for the Doubting Thomases.

TRO,

I'll admit to a degree of uncertainty as life has shown me nothing is certain in this world, but until MON/RL actually demonstrate a lack of ambition for the club, I'll continue to believe in them.

UTV

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Andy Gray........David Platt.........Dwight Yorke........supposed superstars that the club survived after losing.

GB will be no different

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I hope he reads this Grant. You have put it on the line and for me there is only one choice to make for him to make (assuming Liverpool do make an offer that our club find acceptable) and that is to stay put.

I can't see this CL thing being as big a pull as he claims. He needs to weigh that against the loss of the status he holds as our captain, the fact that he will no longer be the first name on the team sheet, Rafa's rotation policy and how playing for Liverpool (or not doing so) has impacted on Crouch in the long run.

But, in the end I suspect it may be a decision that will be one where loyalty to our football club and its fans is weighed against a signing on fee and a few pounds more each week in his salary. The decision will say a lot about the man behind the player.

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Just one other point is that of his England place.

As a regular starter, every game as Captain at Villa, he fully deserves his England place based on ability, form and so on.

As a victim of Rafa's rotational roulette at Anfield he is not going to get anything like the same number of Club games. He may also be played in a position other than that he plays for England.

Gerrard and Mascherano are going to be the centre 2 on many occasions.

The grass isn't always greener. Players who are not regulars for their clubs tend to lose their England places.

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One names sums up this whole debate...

MATT LE TISSIER

Loyal to southampton to the very end. Despite lures of champions league, england shirts etc

He stuck to the saints and is still unashamedly biased towards them. If Barry stays he will be a legend at VP for decades. Leave now, we will forget about you for turning your back on a fanbase that adores you.

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One names sums up this whole debate...

MATT LE TISSIER

Loyal to southampton to the very end. Despite lures of champions league, england shirts etc

He stuck to the saints and is still unashamedly biased towards them. If Barry stays he will be a legend at VP for decades. Leave now, we will forget about you for turning your back on a fanbase that adores you.

The only difference being that Le Tissier made that choice knowing that he would never go on to win anything. Barry at least is with a club that is making serious progress.

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One names sums up this whole debate...

MATT LE TISSIER

Loyal to southampton to the very end.....

The only difference being that Le Tissier made that choice knowing that he would never go on to win anything. Barry at least is with a club that is making serious progress.

Then surely Barry's choice is even easier?

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Ikm not sure that Le Tissier is really the best example to use, as it is widely held that had he gone to a proper team he would have been a megastar, instead of Southampton legend. He was also about twice the player Barry could ever be, to be entirely fair

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Gerrard and Mascherano are going to be the centre 2 on many occasions.

How often does gerrard actually play in the centre in a midfield 2 for Liverpool? Usually he plays off the striker in a 4-5-1 or on the right in a 4-4-2.

If barry goes to liverpool I think he'll play in the holding role along with Mascherano and gerrard will be given free role in front of them.

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