As the shock waves subside from Manchester City's capture of Gareth Barry, the player has come under criticism from Aston Villa supporters for what they see as an inconsistency in Barry's rationale for leaving their club.
When asked at the time about a potential move to Liverpool that became last summer's longest-running saga, Barry cited a desire to play Champions League football. Given that Manchester City won't be playing in the UEFA Champions League next season—or in Europe at all, for that matter—Villans are resorting to calling the 11-year veteran a money-grubbing mercenary on internet message boards and article comment sections.
The problem with all of this is two-fold: Firstly, leaving one employer for a bigger paycheck from another is something one will find in nearly every field, and especially in the world of football. Very few footballers will opt to willingly take a pay cut when switching employers.
Secondly, the talk of Barry leaving for a club not playing Champions League football is shortsightedly focusing entirely on the 2009-2010 season. Given that Barry's deal is five years long, you can bet the player and his agent were savvy enough to take the long view on all of this.
Football fans tend view the future through a prism of the past. This worked fairly well in the old days, when clubs had to build themselves on success over time. Nowadays, with cash ruling everything around football, it's an entirely different paradigm. The old notion of "big" and "small" clubs can be altered with the signing of takeover documents.
Traditionalists who would like to believe it's the same game they followed when they were children spout off nonsense like "You can't buy success." Unfortunately, these statements display a gross ignorance of the past decade.
After not winning a title in 50 years, Chelsea were minted and suddenly won back-to-back Premier League titles.
Similarly, the bizarre talk of the Galactico approach failing at Real Madrid ignores the European and domestic titles won in that era.
History shows it's simply very difficult to dodge success whilst bringing in top-notch talent.
Armed with a reported £250 million budget, Mark Hughes will be looking to do exactly that in the summer transfer window at Manchester City.
Yes, there will be players like Kaká, who won't be swayed by the master plan in place at Eastlands.
However, for every Kaká, there will be a Robinho, willing to put his faith in the club's bright future.
So, no. Gareth Barry won't be playing Champions League football next season. Just like he wouldn't had he stayed put at Aston Villa. What he does get with his move to Manchester improved future prospects.
Who knows what the Premier League tables will look like in a few years. Arsenal appear set to sell their only bona fide striker after a season in which they flirted with disaster by nearly losing their Champions League place.
Yet, had Barry instead departed Villa for the Emirates, he wouldn't be subjected to this second-guessing. This despite making this hypothetical move to a club likely with bleaker prospects of Champions League involvement beyond next season than what he'll be getting at Eastlands.
Make no mistake about it. Barring an injury, Gareth Barry will taste Champions League football during his five-year contract at Manchester City. It may or may not come the year after next, but it will come.
That's something Aston Villa simply can not promise, and that's why his move has everything to do with Champions League football.
And why it makes so much sense.