Gareth Barry talks West Brom, Slaven Bilic and retirement

He has just called time on an extraordinary, record-breaking career.


              
File photo dated 31-12-2017 of West Bromwich Albion's Gareth Barry. PA Photo. Issue date: Thursday August 27, 2020. Former Aston Villa, Manchester City and Everton midfielder Gareth Barry has retired from football.. See PA story SOCCER Barry. Photo credit should read Martin Rickett/PA Wire.
File photo dated 31-12-2017 of West Bromwich Albion's Gareth Barry. PA Photo. Issue date: Thursday August 27, 2020. Former Aston Villa, Manchester City and Everton midfielder Gareth Barry has retired from football.. See PA story SOCCER Barry. Photo credit should read Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

But Gareth Barry admits he is a little unsure what’s next now that he has hung up his boots.

The former Albion, Villa, Manchester City and England midfielder officially announced his retirement last month.

The 39-year-old leaves the game having made 653 Premier League appearances – more than any other player.

He also won 53 caps for England and got his hands on both the Premier League trophy and FA Cup.

Barry – who was blighted by a knee injury during his last two seasons at Albion – has seen former Baggies team mates James Morrison and Boaz Myhill both go into coaching roles at The Hawthorns.

But at the moment, he doesn’t feel that is a route he wants to pursue.

“Last season I knew in my head it was going to be my last year,” he said.

“My knee didn’t recover properly from the operation I had the summer before.

“I am 40 next February so the time is right definitely, I’m not regretting it and I’m looking forward to doing the things I haven’t been able to do.

“Sport-wise I have been playing cricket at the weekend which is something I loved to do when I was at school.

“I am playing golf and family time has become a lot more relaxed. I’ve not got my mind on training or preparing for games which can make you more tense.

“But I am keen to keep my eye on football – whether that is just watching the games on TV or doing some media work.

“At the minute, coaching and doing my badges – I’m not feeling that pull.”

Barry says winning promotion with Albion was the perfect way to call time on his career.

Now the Baggies face a campaign where their number one aim is survival. And Barry feels their 3-0 defeat to Leicester on the opening weekend will serve as a huge wake-up call to the players.

“That game was probably an eye-opener for the quality they are going to be facing in the Premier League this season,” he continued.

“They would have liked to have got off to a better start than that and hit the ground running.

“That is where the manager – who I have got a lot of faith in – that is where he is going to have to lift them and I am sure he can.

“There are a lot of young players there who are going to have to learn as they go this season. But they will improve.”

Barry has played under some fantastic managers during his career.

But he feels Bilic could be Albion’s trump card this season.

“He (Bilic) is a really genuine character,” Barry said. “When he speaks, everyone listens. He’ll do team talks and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

“He’s that kind of guy. He’s keen on team spirit and keeping everyone together, but tactically he’s very good too.

“Some of his substitutions last season went under the radar. I lost count of the amount of times we went behind but went on to win because of tactical moves he made. He’s a really good manager.”

Barry says the longevity of his career is the thing that makes him most proud from his playing days.

While the relegation he suffered with Albion in 2018 was his big low point.

“I think the longevity and the standards I set myself for a long period of time are the thing am most proud of,” Barry added.

“To go through your career and not suffer many injuries, to keep myself in the starting XI at different clubs, to keep getting picked week in week out was something I’m really proud of.

“Plus obviously winning the league, playing for England, the FA Cup.

“Getting relegated was a West Brom low and my career low as well.

“Nobody likes being around the club when that happens.

“It was tough to experience. That’s why it was nice to end my career with the team going back up.

“I enjoyed my three years at the Albion, to finish my career.”

Alongside Albion and Villa, Barry also had a successful stint at Everton between 2013 and 2017.

The Baggies travel to take on Carlo Ancelotti's side tomorrow – match that is being shown live on BT Sport.

The Toffees won at Tottenham in their opening game.

And Barry believes Albion will have to keep things tight at the back and hit Everton on the break if they are to get a result at Goodison Park.

"Going on the results from the first game of the season, there will be two different mentalities on show," he said.

"Everton will be full of confidence after a fantastic win at Spurs.

"West Brom will be a bit down on confidence.

"But I think Slaven Bilic will have had a big week building up the players, remaining them it is just one game and that it only takes one result to kick-start the season.

"Everton are probably going to dominate the ball. It surprised me how much of the ball Everton had away at Tottenham - a great team.

West Brom are going to have keep things nice and tight and try and hit them on the counter-attack."

Barry spoke to the Express & Star as an ambassador for BT Sport.

The BT Sport Monthly Pass lets you watch BT Sport for a simple monthly fee of £25 with no contract.

Customers can watch all BT Sport Premier League fixtures for the next 30 days including Everton vs Albion from 11.30am on Saturday.

For more info visit bt.com/monthlypass

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