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Friday 22 September 2017

Barry: I'm ready to kop flak

City star knows snubbing 'Pool makes him target tonight but says he made right call

THE choice was Manchester or Liverpool. He had just met the man who epitomised Anfield and had gone back to his room at the Adelphi Hotel to consider a career-defining move. He opted for Manchester.

In a parallel life, Lou Macari would probably have won three European Cups and five league titles instead of the single FA Cup winners' medal he did collect with Manchester United. There was an extra £20 a week -- 10 times that in today's money. Macari never regretted it; Bill Shankly snorted that he'd only wanted him for the reserves.

In a parallel life, Gareth Barry and Steven Gerrard would be lining up alongside each other for Liverpool for tonight's Carling Cup semi-final as they almost certainly will do for England in the summer.

The Kop, to quote a chant that will be directed at him tonight, might want to "stick Gareth Barry up your a**e" but he would have been a formidable partner to Gerrard in the heart of Liverpool's midfield, which collapsed so comprehensively at Bolton on Saturday night.

The value of Lucas Leiva has never been better expressed than in his absence. Without anyone to hold the centre of the field together, Bolton bypassed them completely.



Greedy

There will be another chant at Anfield tonight that Barry is English football's "one greedy b*****d".

There are actually plenty to choose from but, unless you want to manage in the wastes of the Caucasus for an erratic warlord as Ruud Gullit did with Terek Grozny, money is seldom the overriding principle.

"People say to me that I have made the right decision in joining City," said Barry. "Liverpool is a fantastic club with a great following but I won the FA Cup last year and I've played in the Champions League.

"Liverpool were still interested when I decided to join Manchester City. I felt City were on the up, whereas Liverpool were finding it a bit tougher."

"It wasn't an easy decision," Barry reflected. "I was signing on promises being made and in football promises are made all the time.

"But, sitting here now, I think it was the right call. I took a bit of stick for a few weeks, as you know, but I took the long-term view and believed that at the end of the contract I could say I made the right decision. I don't get as much stick now. Like everything else, it dies off slowly. Mind you, I have not been back to Villa Park this season. I remember watching a friendly when the transfer saga was going on and the Liverpool fans were singing: 'You can stick Gareth Barry up your arse'. That might have got into my head a little bit but it is part and parcel of football."

So, too, is the kind of excoriating language Gerrard listened to on Saturday night, delivered by Kenny Dalglish, a man he idolised, accusing his players of betraying Liverpool's history. Gerrard has a parallel life, the one that involves accepting Jose Mourinho's offer to join Chelsea seven years ago or his more quixotic approach to be part of his team at Real Madrid.

There might have been a few more pieces of silverware and a lot more money but the absolute love that Liverpool gave him would have been diluted.

No Liverpool player talked to the press in the wake of the 3-1 defeat at Bolton that Dalglish acknowledged was the worst since his return to Anfield. It was not a time for promising to "bounce back" against Manchester City. Now, however, Gerrard was able to add some perspective.

"You have to win every game, the people new to the club will understand that a bit more after a performance like that," he said. "You can't do it here (play poorly). The fans won't accept it and they don't deserve it. It is not allowed, otherwise you will get shouted at and criticised by your manager as we all have been."

Gerrard is desperate to lift a trophy at the home of football and believes this is his best opportunity.

"It would mean nothing for me to lead them out there," he said. "But to lift the cup at Wembley would be a dream come true."

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