Gareth Barry exits Euro 2012 early. Hammer blow or blessing in disguise?
We’ve now had a couple of sleepless nights about Gareth Barry’s groin. It’s an experience we will not want to endure again anytime soon. Finally we know his fate – he won’t take a part in England’s Euro 2012 campaign in Poland and Ukraine. But the truth is, we’re not quite sure how to feel about his untimely exit from the England squad.
Instinctive relief is entwined by an uneasy concern, so in time honoured fashion, we’ve drawn up two lists to help us decide whether to punch the air or regret not praying over a tabloid picture of his inner thigh for the last 48 hours.
5 pros of a Barry-less England:
1. Barry’s injury hung over England’s 2010 World Cup campaign like a boozed-up leering old man in a nightclub. It’s one thing creating a mood of uncertainty to hold out for Wayne Rooney, it’s quite another doing so for the holding midfielder. We’re glad that tedious charade won’t be happening all over again.
2. England won’t be quite as immobile in midfield. The enduring memory of Barry from South Africa was the excruciating exposure of his lack of pace, most notably against Germany when he became the public face of the phrase ‘treading water’ and made grass appear transform in to quick sand wherever he trotted.
3. Risk of a ‘Captain Barry’ has gone. In a rather worrying aside to the Norway friendly on Saturday, the somewhat bland Barry was given the England armband when Steven Gerrard came off late in the game. We had exactly the same feeling of dread and deflation when we heard Sarah Palin was gunning to be the Vice-President of America in 2008. Both prospects posed an unnerving threat to our sense of security.
4. A goal-per-game ratio we won’t miss. The Manchester City midfielder has netted just three goals in 53 appearances (admittedly a portion of those from left-back). With Rooney twiddling his thumbs for two games and an inexperienced strike force replacing him, teh midfield need to come to to the scoring party but Barry is unlikely to turn up with more than a few bland cocktail sausages and an ambitious square ball in the middle third.
5. Scott Parker can shine. With Barry out of the picture, Scott Parker will have a lot less competition for a holding-midfielder starting berth. He was man of the match in the win over Spain and showed characteristic grit against Holland as skipper. Most importantly, he’s untouched by the scars of England’s exquisitely abysmal showing in South Africa.
5 cons of a Barry-less England:
1. We like the name Gareth for an England player. It’s somewhat normal, unexceptional and totally ill-befitting of a multi-millionaire England player. It gives the Gareth’s, the Mike’s and the John’s of this world (or any other) the inspiration to follow suit and reach the heady heights of the game despite their birth certificate handicap.
2. Barry was an important cog in Manchester City’s Premier League triumph, at least statistically anyway – taking part in 33 of the 38 league games. You have to be doing something right to be in the spine of a league winning team. His confidence and consistent form would have given the squad a boost.
3. His early departure will considerably raise the chances of Frank Lampard getting paired with Steven Gerrard, thus reigniting a debate so tedious and ball-breakingly tiresome that OTP may be forced to search their family tree for a viable route to a different nationality.
We guess that seals it then. Although considerably unfortunate, we reckon Gareth Barry’s absence will be a blessing in a very unconvincing disguise. Like a jellyfish’s cranium, it’s a complete no-brainer.
He is a player that is remarkably unremarkable – a player that every manager would want in their team, especially a more conservative manager like Roy Hodgson – but his absence will help force the slow tectonic move away from a tried-tested-failed formula for England team selections.
What do you think? At what risks being a rhetorical question, are we stronger or weaker without Gareth?