Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Shay Given – football's nearly man

While no-one was particularly surprised when Shay Given finally moved from the Man City substitutes bench in order to find first-team football at Aston Villa, the signing of a FIVE year contract may have raised a few eyebrows.

After all the deal would take him past his 40th birthday, old for even goalkeeping standards!

Then again, if you consider Villa's previous number one, Brad Freidel, is the same age Given will be when his contract expires, there may be method behind the apparent madness. Plus to look at the Irishman, you wouldn't think he was 35!

He should prove a shrewd buy by new Villa boss Alex McLeish. Given has been one of the most consistent and talented goalkeepers of his generation. In fact a few year ago I feel he was the best 'keeper in the league.

But such is the vagaries of football Given is yet to pick up a single honour in his career – I doubt the 2011 FA Cup winners medal means much considering he didn't play a single game all last season. Meanwhile someone like Raimond Van Der Gouw played 37 times in six years for Man United and picked up two Premier Leagues titles, an FA Cup and one Champions League.

He was perhaps guilty of being too loyal to Newcastle, though for much of his time in the North-east they were challenging at the right end of the division and playing in Europe – it is perhaps to his credit that he didn't spit his dummy out when things started to go wrong, like many modern footballers do. 

Sadly, like another black-and-white hero Alan Shearer, the Magpies' chronic trophy drought denied him silverware his talent perhaps deserved.

When he did eventually leave the club  were on their way to the Championship, beyond salvation, even for someone of his abilities.

The move to Manchester City therefore made sense – a club on the up, buying players left right and centre, it was perhaps the ideal move for him.

He can consider himself unlucky then to be nudged out of his first-team spot by Joe Hart just 18 months later. City's initial scatter gun policy of transfers left a whole raft of initial signings – the first part of the 'project' – out of the team (albeit on high wages) as a new round of players came in.

It's perhaps telling that while Given has made the move the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bridge are still in (a very lucrative) limbo.

The one thing on Given's side is that goalkeepers' careers cans stretch on longer than their outfield counter-parts. The length of his Villa deal is a sign that there is plenty of time -fitness permitting - for Given to pick up the honours his career perhaps deserves.

And if that did happen, I doubt few would be grudge him it.

Brought to you by, check them out for all the latest scores during the upcoming season.

No comments:

Post a Comment