Why Gareth Barry’s potential absence from Euro 2012 shouldn’t worry us

The Premier League Owl

In the prelude to an international tournament, any England injury is treated as a ‘crisis’ or ‘scare’ – most journalists in this country seem to be contractually obliged to describe it as such.

In the case of Gareth Barry’s groin, there’s no need for a loss of sleep.

The Manchester City midfielder is one of those players who has managed to exist at England-level by doing everything decently and nothing particularly well. It’s an obvious example, but look no further than England’s 2010 World Cup campaign for why Barry will never be essential to his country.

In Roberto Mancini’s side, he’s the conduit between Yaya Toure and David Silva, and with all due respect, there are many players who could operate efficiently between such accomplished performers. Barry’s like the support act at a gig: as long as nothing goes badly wrong, he’s doing his job.

For City, such a player can exist because of the exaggerated pockets of quality in the side, but for England the conditions are clearly different. If anybody sums up the current malaise of the national team, then it’s Barry. He doesn’t contribute enough in either direction, and his selection in midfield suggests more a lack of originality than it does a lack of credible alternative options. He’s a middle ground pick, a safe selection – a shirt filler.

While missing Euro 2012 would be desperately unlucky for the player himself, none of the rest of us should be the slightest bit disappointed – his absence will likely force Roy Hodgson’s into making a braver team selection. If, as we’re led to believe, England will revert to playing Wayne Rooney as their sole attacker once the forward’s ban expires, that will leave a space in midfield that needs filling. With no Barry to occupy it, Hodgson will be forced into something different – maybe even the selection of a difference-maker like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

A personal tragedy for Barry? Of course. But a national injury scare? Not at all, and in fact this might be fate dealing England a lucky hand on the eve of their departure for Polkraine.

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3 Comments on "Why Gareth Barry’s potential absence from Euro 2012 shouldn’t worry us"

  1. Basically, the person writing this article understands nothing about football. Presumably a plastic glory-hunting supporter who has embarrassed themselves badly with this article.

  2. So basically whoever wrote this ‘article’ doesn’t like or get what Barry contributes?
    Strange how so many managers who are far better placed to judge seem to rate him and play him week in week out.

    The anonymous (wonder why?) author is suggesting that he knows more than Martin O’Neill, Fabio Capello and Roberto Mancini to name but 3 highly respected managers who have all regularly put their faith in Barry for critical games.

    But no worry, the author knows best – or maybe he is just showing his lack of football knowledge?

  3. Alphie_Izzett | May 28, 2012 at 10:58 am |

    I think that you, and a great many like you have this wrong. Players like Barry are not ‘shirt fillers’ as you so dispargingly put it, neither are they ‘space fillers’ as you imply. Players like gareth Barry are the nuts and bolts and glue that hold it all together, they provide the environment in which the playmakers and entertainers strut their stuff.

    These are the unsung heroes, nobody notices as they go about their business, tidying up the errors, intercepting, passing, moving, no fuss. If they get noticed it’s usually because they’ve made a mistake, or failed to rectify the mistake of another, seldom is it for doing the simple things well, with commitment and vision. When you really notice them is when they are absent injured or suspended and you can’t for the life of you understand why nothing seems to be working.

    Every side needs a player of this type, a Gareth Barry, a Michael Carrick and I could mantion many from days past, like David Batty for instance. These players all do it differently, the main difference being that some, like Gareth Barry, do it very well indeed.

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