Is Gareth Barry Good Enough for Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City?
Manchester City wasted no time in putting a dismal 2012-13 season behind them, changing their sporting director, their manager, half their coaching staff and bring in new players.
After getting left behind in the English Premier League title race by bitter rivals Manchester United, then losing the FA Cup final to a Wigan Athletic side that would be relegated three days later, certain areas of the squad were pinpointed for improvement.
The first was winger, as the loss at Wembley only served to reinforce one irrefutable fact: City lacked a winger that could stretch the pitch, ensuring teams were able to stack the middle and create a traffic jam.
Scott Sinclair, a true wide man, has sat idly on the bench all season as this problem surfaced week in, week out, and his season-ending injury meant he could not be called upon in the final.
The second was defensive midfield, as several of the players put in substandard performances across the entirety of the campaign. Yaya Toure neglected his defensive duties, Jack Rodwell struggled with injuries while Javi Garcia looked immobile and rash.
Deserving or not, the spotlight very much appears to be on him this summer.
As a team City regressed and Barry followed that trend, but despite popular belief, he had a better season than many on the books.
His 2012-13 campaign will be remembered for that own goal away to Southampton, casting a huge shadow over much of the good work he did this year.
Barry will feel he acquitted himself as well as anyone and he's right to feel that way, but his club's moves in the transfer market hardly assure him of a starting spot.
Why? because you don't spend £30 million on a player, such as City have on Fernandinho, for him to warm the bench.
That means a spot in central midfield is the Brazilian's to lose, and you'd get better odds on getting hit by lightning than Yaya Toure being dropped.
Should City switch to the 4-3-3 as Txiki Begiristain has let on, that opens up a third spot in central midfield. Unfortunately for Barry, Garcia is far more suited to the anchor role in that formation and would likely steal the spot.
That leaves his future in limbo—4-2-3-1, 3-5-2, 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, he's unlikely to be considered first choice at the Etihad Stadium.
All signs point to Barry playing a bit-part role for City next season, and it's his decision whether or not to cut his wages and move on or see out his contract with 12 months to go.
Is he good enough to play for Manchester City? As a depth player he's more than adequate, and a bit of continuity never harmed anyone.
Papers linking him to other clubs are a little premature, and Spurs and Villa aren't exactly logical fits. One thing feels certain, though: His days of starting 30 games a season for the Citizens have likely drawn to a close.
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