Friday, 16 April 2010
Barmby no more
Nick Barmby's introduction to the fray early in the second half against Burnley last week was Iain Dowie's biggest mistake of the day.
While it would be unjust and inaccurate to say that sending Barmby on directly caused the collapse that everyone has been apologising for this week, there is no doubt that the player's existence as a first team option is done so with misted eyes.
Barmby is 36 years old and really, really looks it now. He looks exhausted, fed up and unmotivated. It's a difficult situation when you are introduced to a match that is being contested tightly between two sides that dare not lose, but experience teaches players how to deal with such a situation. Barmby's experience now looks no longer like it can carry him through. He needs to donate more, and he can't.
When Andy Dawson got injured, Kevin Kilbane had to fill in at left back and so a gap was opened on the left side of midfield. Barmby played there with some regularity in both League One and the Championship, smoking cigars of comfort throughout, but simply is not up with the pace and quality that Premier League opponents foist upon you. But Dowie chose what he thought was the safe option and let him loose. Instantly Barmby committed a foul; soon afterwards he was being booked for another. He barely touched the ball, complained a hell of a lot and, surprisingly for a chap who empathises so much with the supporters, did a swift disappearing act at the final whistle.
Dowie had better options with Geovanni and Tom Cairney, and although he did later bring on the Brazilian, swapping flanks with Barmby in the process, he should have done so the moment Dawson went down. Seven players hogged the bench and Geovanni was distantly the most talented. The game was level and tight and needed inspiration which Jimmy Bullard didn't seem inclined to provide. Geovanni might not have done so either, but there was more than a fighting chance that he could, something which Barmby simply does not give any more.
Barmby has been a fabulous footballer and had a terrific, varied career. His story, when he publishes it, will be an intriguing and lucrative one. But the contract expires this summer and even if City are in the Championship, the time will have come for the club to ask him to take up a fresh role, one that doesn't involve kicking a ball - indeed, his current one doesn't involve much kicking of a ball even when he is on the pitch.
The moment he accepts it is over for him as a player we can all immediately remember just how great a player he was. At the moment, we seem to have forgotten.
Posted by Boyhood Dreams