In our latest instalment of the Flashback series, we take a look back at a certain moment and look at how things might have changed those initial reactions.
Gareth Barry moved to Everton from Manchester City in 2013 on an initial loan deal and agreed to a three-year contract with the Toffees as a free agent the following summer (BBC), as the midfielder’s career was far from over when he first wore a Royal Blue jersey at the ripe age of 32.
He moved to Goodison Park after making 132 Premier League appearances for the Citizens (TransferMarkt), and with a further 365 to his name from his time with former side Aston Villa, having made his top-flight debut back in 1998.
What made Barry such an asset to all of his sides were the leadership skills he possessed and demonstrated from the centre of the park, and helped lead to an FA Cup and Premier League crown with the Etihad Stadium natives – their first top-flight honour since 1968.
Former Everton boss Roberto Martinez hailed Barry for the leadership he brought to Merseyside, and claimed after the midfielder helped to inspire an EFL Cup Semi-Final win over Man City with a masterclass performance that the Hastings-born anchor was ‘one of the best English players’ of all time (BBC).
“I have never seen a player with such an incredible professionalism as Gareth Barry,” said Martinez. “For me, he is one of the best English players ever.
“The reason we have so many developing young players is there are leaders in the mould of Gareth Barry. It is no coincidence when we have Gareth Barry around them.”
Martinez was not alone in acknowledging the added qualities that Barry brought to Goodison Park, as his successor Ronald Koeman noted later that year that he was a teacher in the dressing room and worthy of a contract extension until 2018, when he would be 37 (BBC).
“For younger players, they [Barry and Leighton Baines] are a little bit like teachers,” Koeman said. “They have that experience and young players need to listen to them for they will learn.”
Baines may still be at Goodison Park after agreeing to another one-year contract extension this June (BBC), but the Blues are in need of another leader, and one that can take his experiences onto the field in a way the left-back will rarely be awarded the chance to do under Marco Silva.
Step forward, then, Fabian Delph. The 2019 arrival on Merseyside that has followed Barry’s career path by going from Aston Villa to Everton via a stint at Manchester City, and lifting Premier League honours at the Etihad Stadium.
Delph joined the Toffees for a potential £10million this summer (BBC), and has already seen his efforts lauded after the England international displayed a classy touch to his game amid a spirited defeat at home to Pep Guardiola’s City (Daily Mail).
Silva had been desperate to sign the 29-year-old for the leadership he could bring to his ranks, but it has not been something seen often from him. Delph displayed it against City when acting cool under pressure and controlled in possession to be at the heart of Everton’s best moments, yet the frustrations of defeat to the teammates he enjoyed so much success with only served to precede an awful afternoon at Turf Moor.
The Liverpool Echo noted Delph was more forward-thinking than his partner in crime Morgan Schneiderlin against Burnley as the Clarets pulled out a 1-0 win, but added that he looked to be needing Andre Gomes by his side to see the most from the 20-cap Three Lions man.
Where was the leadership Silva had longed for? Where was the Bradford-born midfielder that appeared to scream in anger as AFC Bournemouth picked Everton apart? Where was the Barry in Delph?
Time is firmly on Delph’s side, but it may not be for his manager, and Silva and Everton will need the 29-year-old to find his leadership qualities to help turn around a miserable run of form that has seen the Toffees take no points in the Premier League since September 1.
Everton fans, is Delph capable of being the Blues’ new Barry and leading Silva’s men on the field? Let us know in the comments below…
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