In the summer Everton decided to move on one of their more experienced players after a summer of major recruitment at Goodison Park. In mid-August, Gareth Barry left the club. Everton agreed to sell him to West Brom with Tony Pulis hoping he could replace Darren Fletcher – who had moved to Stoke City.
For some Everton fans, it seemed a mistake. Whilst Barry was no longer a first-team regular and his best years were behind him, he still seemingly had a role to play at Goodison Park.
His experience and leadership qualities were deemed important by many, who felt he could help with the integration of new players whilst also being a role model to the young players coming through the academy. After four years and 155 appearances, watching Barry go, was disappointing to many Evertonians.
Well, one season later, and it appears Everton made the right choice.
To say it has been a difficult season for Barry would be something of an understatement.
Firstly, there are the performances on the pitch. Barry struggled for form much of the season. He then picked up a knee injury which ruled him out after February and required surgery last month. It meant he played no part in West Brom’s eventually unsuccessful fight against relegation.
But it was also a season which saw his reputation as a role model in the changing room decimated. Barry was one of four senior players at West Brom who, allegedly, stole a taxi during an ill-fated team-bonding trip to Barcelona in February.
At the end of March, the night before a crucial fixture with Burnley and with West Brom slipping toward inevitable relegation, Barry was spotted in a Birmingham nightclub – as reported by the Daily Mail.
Whilst not fit to play, many West Brom fans still found his decision on the eve of a matchday to be in bad taste.
When it was revealed his contract had been automatically renewed for next season after meeting a quota of games played, West Brom fans were fairly unhappy on social media.
Some fans greeted Everton’s decision to let Barry leave in the summer quizzically. But, in a season where Barry broke the Premier League appearance record, his longevity was the only thing to celebrate.
Letting Barry go no longer looks like an error on Everton’s part.