As most Evertonians woke up this morning, they will have been greeted to the news that Veteran Midfielder Gareth Barry was close to leaving the blues for West Bromwich Albion. The news has had a very mixed reaction from Blues supporters, with some, such as myself, expressing dissapointment of his departure, whereas others believing it is the correct thing to do.
As of today, Gareth was one of just five Roberto Martinez signings who remain at club, with Joel Robles, whom appears to also be leaving the club, Aaron Lennon and James McCarthy who are both being linked with moves away, to Watford and Newcastle retrospectively, and finally Oumar Niasse, who frankly does not have a future at the club.
From waiting for the all clear to enter Finch Farm, Gareth Barry has arguably been the best signing of the Roberto Martinez era, alongside Romelu Lukaku. Gareth has featured 131 times for the Blues in the Premier League, over a four year span, consisting of an initial season loan deal, followed by a permanent deal the following summer. The amount of appearances Gareth has made for the Blues is staggering, considering rival fans, and some Everton fans, suggested at the time of his arrival, at 32, he was ‘finished’.
He made his debut in a 1–0 home league win against Chelsea during which he made a superb block on Samuel Eto’o (who would later sign for the blues) which prevented a certain goal, later being named man of the match, imminently being warmed to by the Everton fans. That season Gareth featured as a predominant figure in the Everton squad that finished 5th, accumulating a personal Premier Record of 72 points. He formed a superb partnership in Central Midfield midfield with James McCarthy, where both men where integral to Everton’s strong campaign. Gareth scored twice that season, Hull and Norwich, both at Goodison Park.
The following summer, The former Aston Villa man signed permanently for Everton, to the delight of the supporters, though eyebrows where raised at the three-year deal, given to Gareth. The summer of 2014 in came Bosnian Midfielder Muhamud Besic, who was tipped to eventually replace Gareth Barry in this Everton side, but even 3 seasons later, Gareth was still ahead of Besic in the pecking order at Everton, (albeit Mo Besic missed a year through injury). But overall this shows the sheer class Gareth produced weekly, and even though his legs grew old, his brain and knowledge of the game remained superior, making up for his loss of pace, which he was never famous for anyway.
Over the next two seasons, The Football Club struggled, both on and off the pitch, senior Pros such as Gareth, Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka, Slyvain Distin and Leon Osman suffered from fans calling for their place in the side, but Gareth, recovered from this slope superbly and always remained complimentary of the Football club and it’s supporters. An example of the sheer class Gareth had.
Following the sacking of Roberto Martinez, Dutchman Ronald Koeman was hired by the Hierarchy, and he was the man tasked with the overhaul of this Everton squad, and one man, even at the age of 35 who always seemed in his plans was Barry. Gareth started the season in fine form with superb performances against Tottenham on the opening day, and away at West Brom, where he managed to grab the winner for the Blues.
Over the course of the season Gareth featured 33 times for Everton, as he managed to keep his place In the side despite the emergence of Tom Davies, and the arrivals of Idrissa Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin, as well as Ross Barkley and James McCarthy’s presence.
Even at 36 Gareth Barry was a key figure in games he started in and was an important part of Koeman’s Plans, where he was even rewarded with an additional one year deal, The 16-17 season saw Gareth Barry surpass 600 premier League appearances, only the 3rd player to reach this incredible landmark, after Manchester United and Chelsea icons, Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard.
As of may 2017, Gareth is 5 appearances from beating Ryan Giggs record of 632 Premier League games played. An incredible record, which Gareth is fully deserving of.
Gareth Barry has to go down as a player who you have to watch play for your side to fully understand his ability and his sheer class.
Internationally Gareth Barry was incredibly unfortunate to be around the same time as Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, 3 sensational midfielders, otherwise he would get a lot more credit globally.
As this article nears and ending, Gareth looks set to be announced By West Bromwich Albion, a transfer fitting for Gareth in a quest to play first team football constantly in what could be his final season as a Pro, which would be more difficult at Everton now than at West Brom.
The standard of proffesionalism and quality portrayed by Gareth over his four years where class and an example of how it should be, this will be remembered fondly by Everton Fans over years to come. Though no silverware came, Gareth’s impact on the standard of quality Evertonians expect will last.
Farewell Gareth Barry.