Since arriving at Manchester City from Aston Villa in the summer of 2009 Gareth Barry has been a mainstay for the Blues, both under Mark Hughes (the man who signed him) and latterly Roberto Mancini.
Despite the riches lavished on the City side, particularly in the midfield where he has seen the likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva and Samir Nasri subsequently arrive at the club, Barry has held down his place despite the belief that with each new signing he would be the odd man out.
Never one who has enjoyed the best of reputations, Barry has at times been a maligned figure at City, seemingly unable to endear himself to certain sections of the crowd. The common perception of Barry in some quarters is that he is someone who plays on the periphery and imposed nothing in the way of influence in games.
This was particularly the case in the 2010/11 season, where City’s central trio of Barry, Nigel de Jong and Yaya Toure were all tagged as being defensive minded midfielders; spoilers who were charged with restricting opponents and little else, particularly in terms of offensive output. And with the addition of Nasri and Sergio Aguero for the 2011/12 season this was even moreso – that was if he even managed to get onto the pitch.
Through 15 games of the season though Barry has more than just held on to his place: not only maintaining his numbers from a defensive standpoint but increasing by some margin his numbers from an attacking perspective as City set off at a tremendous pace.
Firstly though, looking at his numbers from a defensive standpoint, Barry has continued his form from the 2010/11 season. With the 2011/12 season only part way through, I have listed both his current totals (through fifteen games upto and including the Chelsea game) and the pace he is on target for if he maintains his current rate:
As illustrated, it is shown that Barry is on pace to play an almost identical number of minutes as he did last season – which provides for an even better comparison of his numbers. There is overall very little difference in the key areas such as Interceptions, Clearances, Tackles and Ground 50/50’s.
With Nigel de Jong playing very little this season (through a combination of injury and a tactical change from Mancini leaving him on the fringes) it can be argued that it is to be expected that Barry will continue to shoulder a similar (or increased) amount of defensive responsibility so these numbers are not a huge surprise.
What is telling with Barry’s season so far though is his offensive contribution. Not an area he is adjudged to excel in, Barry’s figures are very impressive and show a marked increase on those from 2010/11. Whilst it is true that City have opened up their game this season, this has not been with the same personnel as last season as Mancini has added some key components to the attack yet Barry has been influential in City’s attacking play as the following numbers show:
Barry’s passing numbers show a big jump on last season: projected big increases in terms of overall passing but more importantly showing a projected rise of just under 50% final third passing and a staggering 100% increase in passing in the opposition half – both achieved whilst also registering higher pass completion percentages (almost 4% and 5% respectively). He is also on pace to add another 100 final third entries to his 2010/11 total.
So we know that Barry has had a greater presence from an attacking perspective than he did in 2010/11 but what impact has he had? In terms of Goals and Assists there is little or no difference, although this has hardly damaged the side given they are averaging over three goals per game. This has not stopped Barry attempting shots on goal however, and he has already almost matched last years numbers.
In terms of key offensive indicators his numbers stand out when comparing both Through balls and Chances created, more than doubling last years numbers already in the latter whilst on pace to increase by 50% the number of chances he is creating – evidencing his involvement in all facets of City’s offensive play.
Barry also backs up these numbers with the statistic that he is often the player in City’s side who covers most ground in games and the numbers we have seen from the past two seasons show not only the value of Barry on this City side, but if anything that his influence and importance to the all-round play of the team is something that is actually increasing.