It’s fair to say Aston Villa haven’t looked back since avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth last season.
The Villans had a very productive summer transfer window, signing the likes of Emi Martinez, Ollie Watkins, Ross Barkley and Matty Cash.
Dean Smith’s men have gone from strength to strength this season and are well in the mix to finish in a European spot this season as they’re currently a point behind sixth-placed Tottenham.
Villa’s success has surprised former hero Gareth Barry, who heaped huge praise on Smith and the board for the team’s rapid improvement.
Barry told talkSPORT.com: “The turnaround has been phenomenal, hasn’t it?
“Dean Smith deserves huge credit for identifying the areas and the players needed to be able to do that, he’s been backed by the board and the players are producing for him. I am surprised, they’ve been great to watch.”
The future looks bright for Villa too as we saw during their FA Cup tie against Liverpool last month.
Villa were forced to field their young players due to a COVID outbreak in the first-team and although they lost the tie 4-1, the kids were a huge credit to the club.
Louie Barry was the standout performer for Villa as his goal levelled the tie which led to the Premier League champions throwing on more senior players to avoid being on the wrong end of a mammoth upset.
The 17-year-old was likened to Jamie Vardy by Jurgen Klopp after the match and there are high hopes for Barry, who had a spell at Barcelona before signing for boyhood club Villa in January 2020.
Barry hasn’t been a part of the first team squad since, something that disappoints his Villa namesake.
But the elder Barry handed some advice to the young striker as he looks to make his way in the men’s game.
The ex-England international added: “The whole feeling at the club, from the youth teams to the first-teams is very positive really. They’re in a great place.
“I’ve watched Louie Barry play for England at youth level, he’s got huge potential.
“My advice to him would be to be patient. I’m sure he scored that goal thinking ‘this is my moment to be in the next squad for the first team’.
“I was sort of looking for him to be involved because I sometimes think Villa need different options off the bench but unfortunately he’s not made it.
“So patience is going to be the key. Whether he’s playing for the under-23s or the under-18s, keep giving those 100 per cent performances. The chances don’t always come that quickly so patience for him is going to be the key.
“He’s a huge, huge talent and has great ability and I’m sure he’s going to have a great career.”