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Bye Bye Barry


NurembergVillan
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After a full year of will he, won't he, Gareth Barry finally did and has moved to Manchester City in a £12m switch, signing a 5-year contract worth an estimated £25m over it's duration taking him up to the age of 34.

After in excess of 400 league and cup appearances, Gareth has decided that he and his ambitions will be best served at Manchester City. He joins a list of central midfielders which currently includes Elano, Stephen Ireland, Vincent Kompany and Nigel de Jong and so will need to replicate his England form on a regular basis for his new club if his World Cup ambitions are to be realised - a place in the starting 11 can surely not be guaranteed.

This is a far cry from his last two years at Villa, where he has been a permanent fixture in the midfield, forming a partnership with Stilyan Petrov this season which saw Villa finish 6th in the table - 12 points ahead of Gareth's new employers. It was a far from dynamic pairing, though, and while international football gives Barry the freedom and time to dictate play from deep with megastars like Lampard and Gerrard in front of him, a more central role at club level saw a large variation in performance levels. For every Newcastle at home there was a Fulham away.

Reinstated as Captain when Martin Laursen succumbed to his career ending injury midway through the season, Barry would occasionally inspire his teammates but many fans felt he was a far cry from the game's top leaders such as Terry, Gerrard and even the aforementioned Laursen. With Barry's leadership coinciding with the dip in form which accounted for the much coveted Champions League place, it remains to be seen whether he will be a massive loss or a massive opportunity to move forward and change the style of play.

Manchester United survived the departures of Ince, Beckham, Stam and van Nistelrooy. Arsenal survived when Flamini, Henry, Petit and Vieira departed. Villa will survive without Gareth Barry. How Gareth Barry will fair without Aston Villa, though, will only be known as next season unfolds.

Did he move to a more ambitious club? Did he move for the massive pay packet? Or was it just time to cash in and move on for all concerned?

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Really hoped he would sign a new contract but after last summer's song and dance with the sly Rafa, it was a foregone conclusion that he'd waltz off either now or on a Bosman next summer. I am very happy that neither Liverpool or Arsenal got him, but pretty peeved by his decision.

Give or take, if I am generous, I can suggest that City and Villa have equal ambition and equal managers. Neither team is in the Champions League (although we are in the Europa League). Both teams are outside the Big 4. Both teams have decent support and similar profile. We have a better long-term history, recent-history and current form. We have the best owner, they have the richest owner. If you take all those points into consideration there can only be one reason that Barry chose to join Manchester City: money.

He can't claim Champions League and he can't claim ambition. He could have claimed he wanted a change. We gave classy Mellberg a classy send-off when he expressed a desire to play in Italy. If Barry had been honest and stated he simply wanted a change, we may have been more understanding, but for me there will always be the lingering truth that it was even more money than the respectable pay wages we paid him that took him away from the team that groomed him to be a star and which gave him a regular England place.

I can't wait to finish ahead of City again next season.

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A move to a club who have qualified for the Champions League would have shown he did want to move to play in that competition as he had claimed. Had he delayed signing for Manchester City for a day or two in a bid to flush out interest from the likes of Liverpool then he might have still got away with claiming that football reasons were the driving force behind his move from us. But, his hurried signing for a team that ended the season below us and out of Europe shows him for what he is a mercenary who has moved for money and for money alone.

He contributed a lot to the club during his years with us and we gave him a lot back by making him into an England regular. His actions last summer were hard to take and the reaction he got from the fans this season after that say a lot for how much we thought of him. Those feelings were clearly not reciprocated and he will not be such a hero in Manchester as he was at Villa Park. Sadly he chose money ahead of our bright future and loyalty. He now has his "dream move" and we have a decent fee for him but for me he is no longer entitled to the term "Villa great" he is a player who moved for money unlike the likes of Bruce Rioch who moved for football reasons or Kaka who turned down Manchester City's millions for the same reason. His decision to move does not say a lot about the man we once thought so much of. :(

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