Bring Bazza back! Manchester City sold the answer to their midfield woes… Gareth Barry

Comment by Alan Ross

With the international break taking away regular Premier League football, Manuel Pellegrini may have time to reflect on a decision he made during the summer that he is probably now regretting.

Loaning out experienced midfielder Gareth Barry to Everton did not look so bad at the start of the season with new recruit Fernandinho slotting in comfortably into the gap left by the former Villa man.

A few months later however and with Manchester City six points of leaders Arsenal, it seems that City could be missing the former England international.

Pellegrini singled out Fernandinho as one of his ‘top priorities’ in the summer but perhaps the Brazilian is not as accustomed to the grind of Premier League football as Barry.

Having steeled himself through eight long Ukrainian winters Fernandinho has managed to mark himself out as different from his compatriots that wore the sky blue shirt.

 However, this determination is no substitute for the kind of experience that Barry’s 500 odd appearances in the top flight brings to a side.

It is exactly the type of unfashionable grit that Barry brings to a side that can, in those crucial away matches where City are dropping points, make the difference.

In City’s title winning year he played 34 out of the 38 league games, forming an understanding with Yaya Toure that allowed the big Ivorian to flourish going forward.

With City unable to weld such a partnership so far this season, with neither Fernandinho nor Javi Garcia able to re-create the magic, this has no doubt affected the club’s start to the season.

Garcia has failed to impress fans since his move to the Etihad from Benfica last year and would not be missed if he moved on soon.

It would be unfair to include injury-prone Jack Rodwell in the list of potential partners as he has been seeing the club doctor more regularly than any of his team mates.

This could not be more different to how Barry has slotted into Everton’s midfield under Roberto Martinez.

The 32-year-old has been deployed in tandem with James McCarthy, resulting in a hardworking, solid and dependable midfield pairing which has pushed the Toffees one point and two places above City in the table.

His renaissance on Merseyside even prompted Martinez to back the midfielder to regain his place in the national squad after his last appearance for England in a friendly against Norway ahead of Euro 2012.

Barry can act as a lynch pin in the centre of park to hold a side together and with United fans bemoaning the injury to Michael Carrick, it shows how crucial a good a midfield that can control the flow of a game is.

Carrick no doubt has superior distribution to the man with 53 England caps, but Barry retains possession well and manages to halt opposition attacks before they become a danger.

While City still struggle defensively with captain Vincent Kompany absent from the starting line-up, slotting in Barry into the side would help steady the ship and plot a course to guide them further up the table.

There are those that feel that Pellegrini lacks an understanding of the English game. Decisions such as sending Barry out on loan while keeping Garcia do the Chilean little favour.

With City no doubt ready to search for answers at the bottom of Sheikh Mansour’s wallet in January because of their topsy-turvy form, you have to wonder what Barry has to do to warrant a recall to the Etihad. 

Image courtesy of MCFC via YouTube, with thanks.

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