When Barry first signed, it all felt a bit “Phil Neville” – nobody was overly excited, despite his obvious pedigree of winning things, and many thought he was just the wrong side of whatever age it is when midfielders turn slow and rubbish. Besides, we had Darron Gibson and we’d never lost when Gibbo was in the team.
Then he made *that* tackle on Samuel Eto’o against Chelsea. In fact, he had Eto’o so deeply rooted in his back pocket that afternoon that Everton had to sign him at the end of the season and have him surgically removed by Sampdoria.
His first twelve months – on loan from Manchester City – were filled with praise, we quite simply *had* to make his move permanent.
And then it went a bit Kevin Campbell. He had his new contract at a Premier League club and that, it seemed, was that. His passing turned into mine. His marking turned into that of a blind lighthouse keeper. And his pace resembled that of Shergar. Current day Shergar. (Google that one kids)
But, as they say, form is temporary.
Against Aston Villa yesterday he may well have had an added incentive, but he ran his socks off. His tackles were alarmingly well-timed, and he even avoided his weekly bookable offence.
But it hasn’t just been against Villa that Barry has crept back into my affections. The sneaky former England international has been working hard at winning back the love from Evertonians this season, winning more duels than last season, and improving his passing accuracy.
He still has the odd stinker, of course, but the 34 year old is once again proving that age is no barrier in the defensive midfield role.
Gerard Deulofeu may get the plaudits – and rightly so – for his performances of late, but Gareth Barry shouldn’t be overlooked just because the work he does often flies under the radar.