Barry back on board

Despite financially better offers from elsewhere the former England international chose to go back to Everton for the next three years. By Carl Markham.

It may not have been the most sensational of summer signings but veteran midfielder Gareth Barry’s long-term commitment to Everton may be the most sensible.

Anyone who watched the 33-year-old at Goodison Park last season could not fail to be impressed with the control and composure he brought in the centre of the park.

The only reason he really stood out was for the simple things: positioning, passing, tackling and commitment — which just about sums up the player.

Manager Roberto Martinez was keen to ensure the player returned to the club once his loan spell from — and subsequently his contract with — Manchester City came to an end.

Despite financially better offers from elsewhere the former England international chose to go back to Everton for the next three years.

Having seen how Martinez blended youth and experience without affecting his attacking principles, Barry is keen to help push the side to the next level, having challenged for the top four for a long spell before eventually having to settle for Europa League football.

“We always want to improve but we have to be careful as it is a different season playing European football,” he said.

“There are going to be a lot of games in the Europa League. A lot of the younger players have not experienced European football but we are positive. We will set our targets high. Our main challenge is the expectation. Last season we produced some fantastic football and got some great results and it is up to us to do that with European football as well.”

Barry’s Champions League experience with City will be vital but the player is confident Martinez will have a plan which will help them not only cope with the additional demands of European football but flourish playing it.

“We will have to treat this season with respect — it is going to be very different with the Europa League and there are a lot more games,” he added.

“But I’m sure the manager will have his plans for that challenge ready and I’m looking forward to it. Last season certainly helped me in terms of making my decision. He is keen for players to learn and I thought I learned a lot from him last season — even with my experience. He was a big reason why I wanted to come back. The way the manager speaks to me I can play into my 40s!”

Martinez sees Barry’s midfield axis with 23-year-old James McCarthy as a key component in the make up of his side. “It is an exciting time with us involved in Europe, two domestic Cup competitions and the League so we need a player of Gareth’s experience and know-how,” said the Spaniard.

“We have got a very talented group of young footballers with big roles in the team already but you need direction and good guidance and leaders — Gareth fits into that group. We enjoyed having him as a loan player, but we will be enjoying having him even more knowing he is an Everton player.”

PA Sport