"It's nice to be part of the club again," he says. "There's a real buzz about the place, a real optimism since Franny took over."
Barnes was a member of the last City team to win a major trophy, scoring the first goal in the 2-1 league cup victory over Newcastle in 1976. He was just 18 then, but the moment remains the highlight of a career which never quite fulfilled its potential,despite 22 England caps.
He changed clubs over a dozen times for fees totalling more than £1.7m, but found no lasting platform for his dazzling skills. He lost favour with City when Tony Book gave way to Malcolm Allison and, although he enjoyed a glorious renaissance in Manchester in 1985 after Ron Atkinson signed him for United from Coventry, a long absence through injury coincided with Atkinson losing his job.
After several short-lived comebacks, including a second spell at Maine Road, Barnes ended his career five years ago with Tampa Bay Rowdies. "Looking at the way City play now with two wingers, I wish I was 15 years younger," Barnes says. "There is a trendtowards entertaining football, with individual players like Cantona and Le Tissier who people will pay to watch. Anyone who has heard me on local radio will know I approve of that."
Now 37, Barnes was training in pub management when he was offered his new job last October. "I'd been on a couple of courses and done some relief work in Cheshire when the brewery asked if I was interested. It seemed an ideal opportunity, and so far it is going very well."