When anyone talks about Aston Villa one of the things they'll surely mention is how so many good players seem to have left over the past few seasons. We talk about Ashley Young, James Milner and we even talk a lot about Stewart Downing who is a terrible person and has been delightfully awful since leaving Birmingham under less-than-cordial circumstances. Arguably, the player exit that trumps all of those would be that of Gareth Barry. His first 441 Premier League appearances were in a Villa shirt and for twelve years he was a fixture in the midfield.
By the end of his tenure, Barry was itching for Champions League football and despite being repeatedly denied a move to Liverpool by Martin O'Neill he eventually found his way to the blue side of Manchester. While City was not quite Champions League material at the time of his move (a move which angered and saddened many Villa fans) you have to hand it to him for being prescient enough to see that City were on the path to becoming one of Europe's elite.
With Aston Villa taking on Manchester City in the Capital One Cup, it gives us an opportunity to look at little bits of Villa history as a tie in to the opposition. For newer Villa fans like myself the Gareth Barry saga seems like ancient history. I can't claim to have any feelings toward the player one way or the other as I simply wasn't following the club during this saga. That doesn't mean I don't understand what it must be like to see his face winning trophies with another club after wearing the claret and blue for so many years.
That's why I was somewhat surprised to learn that Barry still holds Aston Villa in a good place in his heart. For some reason, given some of the acrimony surrounding his eventual exit from the club I didn't really think he would have much to say with regard to Aston Villa. When I read the headline to the linked article, I actually assumed he was looking for some way to humiliate his former employer but I was instead happy to learn he's been following along and has nothing but good things to say - and that he's still close with Stan Petrov.
So what do you think of Gareth Barry now a few years removed from his exit from the club? Is it water under the bridge or something that still bothers you to this day?