Barry hails O'Neill as Aston Villa push towards Champions League

12 February 2009 04:11
Gareth Barry insisted he never tried to engineer a move away from Aston Villa

because of his respect for manager Martin O'Neill.  

Barry was initially distraught after failing to complete an £18million switch to Liverpool last summer after the Reds did not meet Villa's asking price.  

The 28-year-old was desperate to play Champions League football after a decade of loyal service to Villa.  

Final push: Barry is hoping to guide Villa into the Champions League

But the England midfielder maintained a professional approach and has played a key part in Villa's surge into the top four of the Barclays Premier League this season.  

And O'Neill has responded by reinstating him as stand-in captain in the absence of the injured Martin Laursen.  

Barry said: 'I said straight away that myself and the manager are both professional people who want the best this season for Villa. The relationship is very good.  

'It can go through your head what others have done to get away from a club - but it was just not the reputation I would have wanted.  

'It never went through my head to go through that. I've got too much respect for the club, and for the manager, and I've just got on with the job.'  

Barry is happy to lead the side out again after initially being given the skipper's role when O'Neill took charge of Villa in the summer of 2006.  

But his main goal is to see Villa lift some silverware although he is suspended for Sunday's FA Cup fifth-round clash at Everton.  

He said: 'Everyone knows I enjoy captaining Villa. I've always looked forward to doing it and it does give you that extra lift, captaining the team out there.  

'It can raise your game. But Martin is the captain this season and, if we win a trophy, that will be more than enough.'

 And away we go! O'Neill salutes Villa's record on the road

It's a three-horse race: Liverpool boss Benitez insists Villa are genuine title contenders

The club nobody wants to join: Sportsmail looks at England's sorry one-cap wonders



Source: Daily_Mail