Barry apologises to Villa fans for £12m City move
Gareth Barry has apologised to the Aston Villa fans after turning his back on them in favour of a £12m move to Manchester City, worth an estimated £100,000-a-week.
Barry has written an open letter to the Villa faithful - to be published in a Midlands paper later on Wednesday - pleading for forgiveness for leaving the club after 12 years.
Villa supporters are furious that Barry chose to sign for mid-table City just 12 months after claiming he only wanted to join Liverpool to play Champions League football, especially as City cannot even offer Europa League games next season, while Villa can.
Villa fan Ben Weetman, 34, told the Daily Mirror: "I'm disgusted. I feel like I've been led up the garden path."
Season-ticket holder Andy Watts, 35, added: "I do think he has sold out. I am disappointed with him. All last year the talk was he wanted to play in the Champions League, so I can't believe he has joined Man City."
Barry, who will earn £100,000 a week in a five-year contract at City, has been branded a mercenary, but attempted to halt the backlash from his former club by penning his letter of apology and explaining his reasons for abandoning his £60,000-a-week deal.
Before the letter's publication, however, the England midfielder said he joined City because their ambition matched his own, telling the City website: "I'm delighted to be joining City. It didn't take much persuasion from Mark Hughes, they are heading in the direction I want to go.
"There is great potential here, and I'm sure there will be a few more additions to the squad this summer."
City manager Mark Hughes is also keen to complete some more early summer transfer business following the Villla man's £12m arrival.
Hughes said: "I was looking to get a number of deals done as soon as possible and we have had a great start with Gareth joining us.
"I hope we can conclude some more so that when we come back for pre-season training we have everybody fit and well and set for a successful campaign."
After all the speculation over the last 12 months, I want the chance to explain my decision to the Villa fans.
Firstly I want to thank them for the incredible support I have received over the last 12 years, this football club has been a huge part of my life, I joined as a 16-year-old boy and now I am moving on as a 28-year-old man with a wife and two children.
A lot of things have changed in that time, players, management and a chairman - but every season bar none, whether we have been bottom half, mid table or challenging for Europe, the support myself and the team have received has been fantastic.
My one huge regret is that during my time at this club we have not brought the fans the success they deserve. I obviously have to take my share of responsibility that we have not been good enough to win trophies.
I feel the club is in the best position it has been in during my time here, I think we have a group of very good young players, we have a fantastic chairman who is here for the good of the club and one of the best managers in the game.
Obviously people will ask why I am leaving if I feel like that.
I have honestly been very undecided what to do, the manager and the whole club have bent over backwards to try and persuade me to stay and made me a fantastic offer which I am extremely grateful for.
But, after changing my mind lots of times, I came to the decision that the time was right for me and for the club to part company. I need a new challenge, I have a massive fear of going stale and falling into a comfort zone.
I believe the deal is a good one for the club, I am sure the manager will use the money well to strengthen the team and the club will go from strength to strength.
I am also excited now about my new challenge, a lot of people will question my decision to join Manchester City, but they were the club prepared to meet the valuation, which for a 28-year-old with a year left on his contract I think shows how much they wanted me.
Once I had spoke to Mark Hughes there was nowhere else I wanted to go, I was also desperate to avoid any long drawn out saga.
I feel I am joining a club that will seriously challenge to win major honours. People might doubt that, but I am convinced with the plans the club has short term and long term.
The backing the manager will receive from the owners tells me that we will be a major force.
Also the World Cup next year has always been a major part of my thinking. I feel at Manchester City I will get the chance to play regularly in my best position and play a big part in a successful side.
Time will tell if I am right or not, but those are my reasons.
I have grown bored of all the speculation surrounding me over the last 12 months and I am sure all the fans have as well, I am glad I never left last summer because I would have left under a huge cloud.
This year I feel things are different, I haven't used an agent. I have discussed things with my best friend (agent Michael Standing) but ultimately made my own choices.
I believe the situation has been handled properly by everybody involved. Once again I have to thank the manager and the club for that.
I genuinely wish the club all the best for the future and want to thank everyone who has helped and supported me in my time here.
For the rest of my life Aston Villa will be the first result I look for.
Thanks for everything.