Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry says he doesn’t enjoy playing in a defensive midfield position.
But he has assured manager Martin O’Neill he is more than prepared to play wherever he is asked – even at left-back – for the sake of his team.
O’Neill decided to play a 3-5-2 formation to try to quell a strong and physical Portsmouth side, dropping full backs Nicky Shorey and Luke Young and instead playing Carlos Cuellar and Curtis Davies alongside skipper Martin Laursen with Barry and Nigel Reo-Coker as cover.
Barry said he, too, had been surprised at the decision particularly as Villa had started the previous seven Barclays Premier League matches with their traditional 4-4-2 formation – a decision which had earned them 13 points from those matches.
The England international midfielder said: “I was a bit surprised when the manager read the team out. I prefer to play midfield, as you know but I have never been one to moan too much about anything and I’m not going to start now. “It’s all about doing the job. “
Barry, who won the man-of-the-match accolade for his adaptation to the role that was asked of him, accepted that Villa and Pompey had effectively cancelled each other out.
He said: “There wasn’t too much in the game. Maybe they had the better of the first half but we dominated the second and they got the breaks when we got the ball into the box.”
He confirmed that Villa had expected a tough match, against Harry Redknapp’s team of giants, who have an average height in their starting XI of 6ft-plus.
“I’m not too small but there’s little point going into the box these days.” Barry said. “ I’ll just stand on the edge of it. That’s the Premier League - they are all big players.
“As for playing at left-back, if it benefits the team I will do it. The manager thought it might have been.
“I am sure the manager will assess the situation. At one end of the pitch, we have kept a clean sheet. At the other, we haven’t created too many chances.
"We’ll see what the manager goes with on Thursday [in Villa’s first Uefa Cup group match at home to Ajax Amsterdam].
O’Neill had a brief chat with his former skipper before kick-off having revealed his new-look defensive line-up.
Barry said: “He had a brief chat with me before the game and said it wasn’t a long-term thing. But I know he changes his mind, so I’m going to have to take that with a pinch of salt.
“It wasn’t a traditional left-back role, really. I’m not a player who enjoys players running at me too much, when I play there. But I tried to enjoy going forward and I hope the manager appreciates that.”