Barry givesVilla staying power
GARETH BARRY is over his controversial bid to secure a move to Liverpool and believes that Aston Villa are capable of breaking into Champions League football this season.
Barry has scored three goals in three games as Villa have climbed into the Premier League’s top four and made an impressive start in the UEFA Cup.
But Barry, who had a major row with manager Martin O’Neill when he could not get his dream summer move to Liverpool, says there is more to come.
Liverpool lead the table but Villa are the surprise team chasing them along with the established cartel of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal. “It is good just to get the whole summer episode out of my system and concentrate on what I am doing and enjoy doing,” said Barry. “Liverpool is history and you learn from it. It is part of my life, but it is gone.
“Top four in the Premier League for Villa is certainly more realistic than last season when we were talking about it.
“Eventually we are going to find ourselves in the run for a top-four place. We’ll fancy ourselves, but it is a massive step because that top four has been there for a long while. They have such a big advantage with the players they have got.
“The pundits say if anyone can break in then it will be us but they still don’t back us to get it. It would be nice to prove everyone wrong and make it.” Villa dragged themselves out of a poor performance to beat Blackburn after going a goal down, and O’Neill praised his team for their “performance of the season”, given how they rescued themselves from a dreadful first half.
Barry lost the captaincy of Villa and was fined and barred from training when his row with O’Neill over Liverpool reached its height.
O’Neill has confirmed that Martin Laursen will stay as captain, but has constantly praised Barry’s performances this season.
“Gareth is a very good player who played well for us last season and is doing so again,” said O’Neill. “I do not tire of saying that or of others saying it on his behalf. Again, he played a very big part in us getting a win over Blackburn when in general we were poor.
“At times we looked tired as a team and with us being in the middle of a very busy programme, I am going to have to rotate the players to give them a rest because they can’t all keep playing all the time.” Villa will defend their fourth place at Newcastle on Monday, then they are away to Slavia Prague in the UEFA Cup on Thursday followed by a home fixture with Middlesbrough the following Sunday.
“In the UEFA Cup the manager rested a few and John Carew has had a rest since,” said Barry, who has now scored five goals this season.
“The manager will assess it. If the stats about the amount of ground we can cover are slipping then he will make a judgment.
“I’m enjoying getting these goals. I have got a bit more licence to get forward now. I always try to get in the penalty box and at the moment the chances are falling to me. This season I am hoping to get into double figures, which should be possible as we are playing more games.”