I have a confession.
You see, I'm a Liverpool fan and at the start of the season, I was disappointed that Alonso, and not Barry, would be lining up in midfield.
Before you all gasp in horror, let me just explain. In my mind, Xabi, a great hero of mine, had not adapted while the team had moved on around him. I thought, and I suspect that the management maybe concurred that Alonso's poor couple of seasons had been due in part to a problem fitting in with Rafa's new expansive attacking style, which pushed the play further forward and focused the team on Gerrard and Torres.
It seemed to me that Gareth Barry would have been a better bet, playing as part of a midfield containing two wingers and Mascherano, with Gerrard playing just ahead. This struck me as a fantastic option, and unfortunately, Xabi no longer fit. Rafael Benitez clearly thought likewise, as he considered offers from Juventus for the former Sociedad ace.
Many people would have taken the events and uncertainty of the summer and sunk off to hide in a corner. Some may have spun outward and mouthed off against their employers. In any case, after two poor seasons, very few would've done anything other than go through the motions.
But Xabi, on the other hand, may have had his best ever start to a season in a Liverpool shirt, scoring crucial goals and proving to be a diamond in the rough in a couple of average team performances. This culminated in last week's man of the match performance against the Blackburn Rovers.
These days, whenever I see Gareth Barry in the press, I get a horrible guilty feeling in my stomach, as if I've somehow betrayed a best friend by looking to someone better to hang around with.
So Xabi, my apologies. I wouldn't change you for the world.
Well, maybe improve your tackling a bit.