The reason that England manager Fabio Capello decided to hand an injured Gareth Barry a ticket to South Africa 2010, may be deeper than the obvious.
Although the Manchester City midfielder is recovering steadily, he will miss England’s opening group stage game against the USA on Saturday 12 June in Rustenburg.
Capello's decision to take an injured player, who will only be fit to play from England’s second group stage game onwards, is surely an indication of the importance the Italian places on Barry, and the role he will play in the team.
Capello’s warm up matches prior to the Finals have seen him tinker little with the formation and play a standard 4-4-2. This has led to a fair amount of criticism being levelled at the England manager for being unadventurous and uninspiring.
This has also thrown Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard back into the centre of midfield to play together and once again opened up the debate of whether the two can form an effective partnership.
However, the inclusion of Barry is an insight into Capello’s thinking and an indication that change is in the air.
For, to include him, at the expense of a fit and healthy player, is a sure sign that once recovered, Barry will play a significant part in Capello’s assault on the World Cup.
Once the former Aston Villa captain is fit, the "Gerrard–Lampard dilemma" will be over—as they will not be playing together in the heart of England’s midfield.
And Capello may have another surprise up the sleeve of his hand-tailored Italian suit.
With a fit Barry slotting into the England team, Capello could well introduce a new England formation. A formation that many have been calling for and was tentatively introduced, albeit with inappropriate personnel, during the later stages of England’s final warm up game against Japan.
Capello may well be readying England to finally play the much favoured and demanded 4-1-3-1-1 formation.
The key player in this formation is Gareth Barry, hence his inclusion in the squad despite his current unavailability. For once he is fit, Capello will have all the right players in their best positions, ready to unleash his new look England formation onto the World Cup stage.
Barry will play as the holding midfielder, sitting in front of the back four, with a midfield trio of Lampard, Aaron Lennon and James Milner. The lone striker will be Wayne Rooney, with Steven Gerrard just behind, in the position that he plays so effectively for his club.
This formation solves so many issues. And most importantly positions players where they are most effective and accustomed to playing in with their respective clubs, thereby providing them with the greatest possibility to reproduce their phenomenal club form.
It is a well known fact that Rooney prefers to play as a lone striker, and revels in that position. He played much of his exceptional season for Manchester United in this role and scored a hat full of goals.
Steven Gerrard may prefer to play in central midfield, but there is no better player in the squad that plays in the position behind a lone striker than the Liverpool captain.
So adept is he in that role, that it is now even named after him and is known as "The Gerrard Role."
This formation obviously also solves the "Gerrard–Lampard dilemma" and allows the Chelsea midfielder to play in the role he performs so well for his club.
Speed and penetration can come from the wide areas through a selection of players, Lennon and Milner being the most obvious and likely.
But the cornerstone and key to this system is Barry sitting just in front of the defence in the holding midfield role. This is also, by far, his most effective position and a role he performs with the utmost expertise and far better than any other player in the squad.
It is with this new formation in mind and his vital part to play in it, that Capello has given Barry the nod.
With Barry taking up his preferred holding midfield role, Capello will then be able to play all his top players in the positions that they thrive in at club level, thereby allowing them to reproduce that form on the world stage.
Gareth Barry is the key that will allow Capello to unlock the door to England’s World Cup glory.
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