Gareth Barry could be making his final Goodison Park appearance for Everton, against Manchester United, on Sunday afternoon. He is not certain whether it will be; nothing has been decided for next season yet and there is still the possibility of extending his loan or making his move to Merseyside permanent, but he knows for sure he will be unable to take part in the last home game of the season, against Manchester City.

"That is going to be really frustrating, especially when there could be so much on it," the midfielder, last capped by England in May 2012, says. Those who have been debating the rights and wrongs of the loan system recently should try looking at it occasionally from the point of view of the player in the middle.

As a City player, albeit one farmed out to Everton for a season, Barry would like to see Manuel Pellegrini's side win the league, and believes they still can. As an Everton player, he refuses to believe that Wednesday's surprise home defeat by Crystal Palace will end up costing them a Champions League place. The midfielder is convinced they will get another chance if they can win all their remaining matches, though doing that would involve taking points off Manchester City.

"I have been thinking about the City game for a few weeks now," Barry says. "I noticed straight away it was the last home game of the season, so that was disappointing for a start. We could be challenging for the top four, which has been our focus all season, or maybe City could secure the title at Goodison in front of me watching, which would have been interesting, to say the least. I suppose, speaking for both clubs, it is good still to have things to challenge for at this time of the year. It is a sign of a successful season."

Barry switched clubs on the last day of the summer transfer window despite feeling, and letting Pellegrini know, that he still had a future at City. For Everton, the deal could not have worked out better. Roberto Martínez has just admitted he was happier spending some of the Marouane Fellaini money on Barry and James McCarthy than keeping hold of the Belgian midfielder, who returns to Goodison with David Moyes on Sunday.

Barry, too, has had a better time of it than Etihad team-mates such as James Milner and Joleon Lescott, who have struggled for game time this season. At 33, he wants to be playing rather than watching, and he was pleasantly surprised to find that, even at his advanced age, there were still aspects a new manager could teach him about the game.

"It's been really good to see how Roberto works," he says. "He sold the club to me in the first place and since I got here he has been brilliant. I've learned so much, stuff about positional options and moving into different parts of the pitch that I had not thought so much about before.

"I'm delighted with the way the season has gone. The atmosphere for big games at Goodison is special and that will help spur us on in the games against United and City. There will be twists and turns, I'm sure, and we are still in with a great chance. Both Everton and City have fantastic sets of fans who really get behind the players. I knew my first game at Everton wasn't going to be a stroll around the pitch. I knew I had to show I could put a shift in, and once you do that they take to you."

It is a pity, Barry seems to be suggesting, that managers newly arrived from La Liga cannot do the same. He accepts that the game is about opinions, and different managers will have different views about the same player, but he feels he was ushered out of the Etihad before Pellegrini had seen him often enough to make a proper assessment.

"I presume he had watched a few games before he came and made his mind up on that," Barry says. "I told him he might be making the wrong decision because I still felt I could compete for a midfield place. You can't just roll over in these situations, you have to back yourself, but I could see after a few conversations that his mind was made up. I had to move on.

"That hurt a little – any rejection in life hurts – but being able to come and play for Everton meant I could close that chapter quite quickly and forget about it. I think I made the right decision. It has been a fantastic year."