After 92 minutes of nothing, Gareth Barry gave Manchester City something: Two extra points.
Reading had held out the whole way at the Etihad, the relegation-embattled Royals within minutes of a valuable point against the defending champions. Manchester City had was in control the entire time but had generated very few chances. Through regulation time, the Citizens had only put two shots on Adam Federici.
But until there’s a goal, you only need one shot to win it, and minutes before referee Mike Dean was set to call time on what would have been City’s bitter disappointment, Barry got his chance.
Or, better put, he made his chance, and in the process gave City a Saturday victory:
Gareth Barry has been the subject of much criticism over the years. After a drawn-out courtship by then-Liverpool manager Rafa Benítez failed to pry him from Aston Villa (where he lost his captaincy), his game was rightly scrutinized against LFC’s implied evaluation. When Manchester City overpaid to take him from Villa Park, the criticisms became more germane.
But as he continues to illustrate, Barry is a one of the few points of consistency in the City side, and as the reliability entails efficiency with the small things while playing mistake-free soccer, he’s been one of the holders’ better players.
It’s fashionable to bemoan the idea that a straight-forward, limited player like Barry can be so important to such an ambitious club, but those thought exercises ignore the fact that he’s actually very good, if straight-forward and limited. As the absences of Darren Fletcher and Frank Lampard have shown, Almost every club around City in the table could use someone like Barry.
So he’s not Sergio Busquets. You know what the really great thing about Busquets is? Nobody is like him.
And he’s not Bastian Schweinsteiger. But guess what the great thing about Schweinsteiger is.
Gareth Barry only needs to be Gareth Barry. That means solid play, the right decisions, and an occasional 93rd minute goal. And City’s two points better for it.