Gareth Barry is a “class act” and would enjoy the perfect partnership with Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard if his transfer to Anfeld is ever finally secured.
That is the view of the Liverpool captain’s cousin, Walsall defender Anthony Gerrard, who lined up opposite Barry on a night of a tense drama at the Banks’s Stadium on Tuesday night.
Villa fans booed and jeered their want-away former skipper for almost all of his hour-long appearance in the friendly following a turbulent summer of transfer rows and wrangles between Villa and Liverpool over the midfielder.
Liverpool-born Anthony is the younger cousin of Reds’ skipper Steve and himself a huge Liverpool fan and described Barry as a “quality player” after seeing him turn in an assured performance to help Villa secure a 3-2 victory over their League One neighbours.
The central defender - Walsall’s Player of the Season last year - believes Barry would be a huge asset to his home town club and said his man-of-the-match winning performance underlined just what a true professional Barry was when put under immense pressure by a crowd of some 2,200 travelling Villa fans.
Villa supporters are angry that their former skipper - who wants to leave to pursue his Champions League dream after ten years at Villa Park - publicly criticised manager Martin O’Neill in a newspaper article. Barry took a swipe at O’Neill because he felt his boss was too busy away commentating on the European Championships to deal with the transfer issue.
Anthony Gerrard said: “After seeing that performance it would seem that whatever is going on in Gareth Barry’s football life has not affected him on the pitch and that was evident in his performance against us.
"He showed he was a class act and a class above any of the other players. He is an absolute quality player and as a Liverpool fan, I believe he would be a great addition to the team.
“Gareth Barry is a credit to himself. He was as professional as always. He wants to better himself and play in the Champions League and fair play to him for that. Everyone wants to excel in their career and hopefully, if he moves to Liverpool, he can do that.
“I know Steve would like Gareth Barry to join him. They are good friends and they got on whenever they join up together with the England squad. I have no doubt at all that they would make a good partnership on the field.”
Barry’s run-out at the Banks’s Stadium ended when he was subsituted and disappeared in a waiting car without joining his Villa team-mates and manager Martin O’Neill who was watching the proceedings from the stands.
Villa won the game thanks to a brace from Shaun Maloney and a third from Wayne Routledge - cancelling out goals from Saddlers’ Alex Nicholls and triallist Patrick Suffo.
Maloney admitted afterwards that he hoped those goals would stake his claim for a place in O’Neill’s starting line-up for the visit of Odense BK to Villa Park in the second leg of the Intertoto Cup this weekend.
He said: “Hopefully I have shown the manager I am ready if the call comes against Odense on Saturday. Fingers crossed I can play a part.The boys played pretty well in patches against Odense last weekend so I think it will be difficult breaking into the starting line-up for the second leg.
“But I have done all I can now so hopefully I will be ready if the manager calls.”