Shay Given
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Shay Given picks out two players to save Newcastle’s season, reveals extraordinary Vieira Man City moment and identifies Pep replacement

| 11.12.2021

Shay Given talks Newcastle, Manchester City and Premier League goalkeepers

Shay Given made more than 400 appearances for Newcastle between 1997-2009 and spent a couple of seasons with Manchester City.

The former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper retired in 2017 and most recently was a first-team coach at Derby County, a role he left in the summer.

In an exclusive interview with Ladbrokes, Given discussed which striker Manchester City should sign, the man to replace Pep Guardiola, Patrick Vieira, Ederson, Aaron Ramsdale and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

However, he started by talking about the players Newcastle need during the January transfer window in order to avoid relegation.

Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard would be great for Newcastle

It’s fair to say the immediate impact Eddie Howe has had on the Newcastle team has been pretty positive. That first win at the weekend was obviously massive and it’ll work wonders for the mood in the camp. Avoiding relegation is still going to be a tough ask though; no other club in the Premier League has stayed up after going so long without picking up three points, but records are there to be broken – at least that’s what Eddie said, and I really like that mindset.

There’s a horrible run of fixtures coming up now though, there aren’t any easy games in there, so they’re in for a really tough month ahead. They’ve got to play Leicester, Liverpool, Man City, Man United and Everton in their next five games. Plenty will look at those fixtures on paper and say Newcastle won’t pick up many points, but football’s not played on paper. Eddie’s brought a real togetherness about the place, though, so hopefully the team can up their performances in the coming weeks and head into January with a few positive results.

Hopefully, reinforcements come in next month, sooner rather than later. It’s key they get their business done early. There’s no getting away from the fact the squad needs strengthening and I hate seeing teams leave it until Deadline Day. There are three big games in the league in January against Watford, Southampton and Leeds; you’re going to want your new players in the door early to give yourself the best chance of picking up maximum points from those teams in and around them at the bottom of the table.

Jesse Lingard, Manchester United, Shaty Given

Reinforcements will only lift the mood in the camp, believe me. The rumour is that there’s supposedly £45-50m available for the club to spend in January, which isn’t really a lot of money in the current climate, so I see the club taking advantage of the loan market.

I don’t think it’s a case of having to bring in players with experience of relegation scraps; you’re going to want players coming in who are going to significantly improve the squad; quality players are what’s going to get the club out of the position they’re in. Immediately I’m thinking about Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard; two quality players who aren’t playing as much as they’d like for their clubs at the moment. Get the ball rolling with arrivals like that. It’s going to take four, five, maybe even six players of that calibre to come in in January to give the team a real chance of staying in the division.

Jesse Lingard is the main one I’d be looking at. I think his contract at Man United is up in the summer so he should see the second half of the season as an opportunity to show people he’s capable of performing at a top level, just like he did last year with West Ham.

It’s Haaland over Kane for me at Man City

I support all of the clubs I’ve played for throughout my career. I’ll always look out for their results, but of course, living in Manchester means I try and go to as many City games as I can. It’ll be interesting to see if they bring in any new signings next month, given how heavily linked to a number nine they were in the summer. I do still feel, while they have obviously got so many talented players, that if they had a world-class number nine, the Premier League would pretty much be a done deal. Don’t get me wrong, Liverpool and Chelsea are obviously two very good teams that are flying in the league, but an out-and-out number nine for City would give them a whole new dimension.

Harry Kane was very strongly linked with a move, but part of me was thinking that while he’d be great for a season or two, it would have been a lot of money to spend on a player of his age. I was thinking the Erling Haaland move would have been better for the club in the long-term because he’s only just turned 21. You’d get 10 years or so out of him, and his dad used to play for the club so there is that link already. Maybe that would’ve been a better option than Harry Kane, all things considered.

I’m just thinking of the bigger picture, long-term as well as short-term. Haaland looks the real deal right now but he’s still so young – he’s only going to get better. You’re going to get much more of an investment from Haaland than you would Kane. Again, though, that’s not to say Kane wouldn’t thrive in this City side for a couple of years. Pep Guardiola’s only got 18 months left on his contract though, so maybe he doesn’t really care what happens to the club in five years; he’s just thinking about the here and now.

Harry Kane, Tottenham v Leeds bettng tips

I just watch City sometimes and think ‘if only there was a number nine between those two posts, they’d have an absolute hatful of goals.’ Even if they don’t bring anyone in, though, you’d still expect them to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. I think it’s safe to say this will be one of the closest title races we’ve seen in the Premier League in recent years.

I was a striker for my school team at under-14s to be fair, so if Pep’s looking for a number nine in January maybe I could be the man!

Rodgers ideal replacement when Pep leaves​

I’m sure Manchester City are already looking ahead to life after Pep Guardiola. Pep’s made no secret of the fact he’ll be heading back to Spain when his contract is up, and given that we’re 18 months or so away from that happening, it would surprise me if there aren’t plans in place for his replacement.

Football changes really quickly, though, and there’s still plenty of time for a manager to emerge as a contender for the job. The main names flying around at the moment are Mauricio Pochettino and Brendan Rodgers, and I think the latter would be a good option to come in.

There’s not a massive list of names that jump out at you as potential replacements for a manager like Guardiola, though. Obviously when you’ve got the financial power, the squad and the history the club are beginning to build, there’s no doubt a load of top managers will be queuing up for that job.

I could always see Patrick Vieira becoming a manager. He took over the team talk in our FA Cup semi-final with Man United… Mancini left the room

I’m not surprised at all that Patrick [Vieira] stepped into management. I remember one game in particular at Manchester City, it was the FA Cup semi-final against Man United where he basically just took over the team-talk. Roberto Mancini left the changing room and Patrick took over.

He was very inspirational when he spoke and you could just tell in that moment that he would end up becoming a manager. Everyone in the changing room respected and loved him, and it was a two-way thing; he respected every single one of his team-mates. He’s a great lad who I’ve got a lot of time for, and it’s great to see him doing well in the Premier League with Crystal Palace. He worked hard at City, then moved over to New York as well as spending time in France, so he’s certainly got the experience under his belt.

Here’s why Ederson is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League

I’ve got a lot of time for Ederson. I go to a lot of the Manchester City games and even watching him warm up is phenomenal. If anyone wants to improve as a goalkeeper, I’d urge them to just watch him warming up. Some of the passing, the kicking and other stuff he does before a game is just unreal. You can learn so much from him.

Ederson, Manchester City

Alisson is keeping him out of the Brazil team but I’d still say Ederson is probably the best goalkeeper in the Premier League. The standard is so high in the division with the likes of Edouard Mendy and David De Gea, but I’ve liked Ederson ever since he arrived at the Etihad. When Pep Guardiola replaced Joe Hart, he could have gone with anyone but he really wanted someone who was near enough an outfield player with the ball at his feet – but that’s taking nothing away from the talent he’s got as a goalkeeper as well.

I watched the game against Aston Villa last week and he made a key save in that game to keep all three points for City. It’s easy to just compliment him on how good he is with the ball at his feet, but his saves get overlooked sometimes. It was a match-winning save he pulled off which saved his side an extra two points. Sometimes those moments go unnoticed come the end of the season and that’s the way of the world when you’re a goalkeeper, but he’ll know if they lift the trophy that he played a huge, huge part in them doing so.

Peter Ramage to blame for Rooney’s volley against me!

Wayne Rooney’s volley against Newcastle… I swear it’s the only goal I ever see! You see it all the time on adverts for the Premier League, but it’s me who he scored it against… I’m sure he scored some great goals against other goalkeepers as well but I only ever seem to see that one!

I’ve reminded him a few times that I made some decent saves against him as well, but that’s the typical life of a goalkeeper… no one ever shows them! There’s nothing you can do against a strike like that. Actually, I thought it was a poor header from Peter Ramage in the build-up. You’ll see it if you watch the clip back. He should have headed it clear but he put it on a plate for Wayne. I’m blaming him for that goal.

It was a phenomenal strike though in all seriousness, especially when you consider that he was arguing with the referee a couple of seconds beforehand because he wanted a free-kick. I think he took the anger out on the football and it ended up in the top corner. It’s a great goal for the Premier League, definitely. Not for me though.

Aaron Ramsdale has been a big part of everything good about Arsenal

Aaron Ramsdale has done brilliantly since joining Arsenal. I expect he’ll be pushing Jordan Pickford all the way for that England jersey. He had to bide his time as Bernd Leno was their number one at the start of the season, but it’s no coincidence that their turn in fortunes on the pitch came after he started featuring for them. He’s been a big part of everything good about Arsenal this season.

A goalkeeper can spread so much confidence throughout a team – it’s amazing really. Your team-mates head out thinking ‘if we do get beaten, we’ve got someone behind us who can save us’, and that’s exactly what Arsenal have got in Ramsdale. Even as recently as the Everton game earlier this week, he got his fingertips on the shot in the build-up to Everton’s first goal and was unfortunate with where the ball ended up going. He’s done that on plenty of occasions this season already.

You have to give the recruitment team at Arsenal a lot of credit. He played for a Bournemouth team that got relegated and then the same happened at Sheffield United, and people asked a lot of questions when the club went out and spent upwards of £20m on him. It’s a massive transfer fee when you consider how many times he’s seen the ball fly past him over the past two years, but the recruitment team clearly saw something in him and it’s actually looking like a really good piece of business. Leno is going to struggle to get back in that team now, I’m sure of that.

On Aubameyang…there’s a difference between putting your feet up and struggling for confidence

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was on fire up until he signed his contract, and people have started to put two and two together, thinking it’s as simple as that, as if he’s signed his contract and put his feet up. But I don’t think that’s the case. There’s a difference between putting your feet up and losing your confidence, and you can see in the case of Aubameyang it’s very much the latter.

He came on against Everton and had that big chance at the end of the game, he could have salvaged a point for Arsenal – and you’ve got to say that when he was going through that rich vein of form, that ball was going into the bottom corner.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Man Utd v Arsenal betting tips

Any top striker in world football will tell you that confidence is a big part of the game. If you’re not confident, you’re not scoring, and it’s a difficult thing to rediscover. Sometimes things just don’t go your way and you’re just praying for a lucky break of some sort to get the ball rolling again.

You go two or three games without scoring and all of a sudden everyone picks up on it. People start saying ‘he’s not scored for ‘X’ amount of minutes’… they say minutes instead of games to make it sound longer than it is.

Aubameyang is a brilliant striker and I’ve no doubt he’ll come back around again. All great strikers take a dip in form. Mikel Arteta’s job is to get him back firing again. Aubameyang is the club captain. He needs to lead that team through this difficult time, and the best way to do that is by scoring goals.

In signing for Man City I was joining a club with huge ambitions and leaving a club with none

For me, it was always an exciting time when I joined Manchester City, a club which had huge ambitions to challenge at the top of the league. We knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, but we were bringing in the calibre of players that were going to give us a really good chance of climbing up the table, the likes of Robinho, Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta. We were establishing ourselves as a real force in the division right from the offset.

Leaving Newcastle wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I’ve spoken about it in the past, and purely from a career point of view it was the best opportunity I thought I’d have of challenging for titles and adding some trophies to my collection. I was joining a club with huge ambitions and leaving a club with no ambition. Mike Ashley was just happy for the club to stay afloat, the same as he was for the duration of his tenure. That’s why there’s so much excitement in the city now, and hopefully the new owners are there for the long haul. Sheikh Mansour has stuck to his word. He said they were here for the long haul. They wanted to make the club one of the best in world football and what they’ve done off, as well as on, the pitch is phenomenal.

I still live in Manchester, and what they’ve done to the whole east side of the city, the stadium, the training ground, the infrastructure, as well as everything they’ve done in the community… they’ve done everything they said they would and then some. You hope the Saudis and the people that have taken over Newcastle will do the same, not just for the club, but for the area as well.

Mark Hughes, Shay Given, Man City

It’s exciting times at Newcastle for sure, but it’s not going to be an easy journey to success. Their first task is to keep the club in the Premier League and look to build from there. It’s not easy when you represent a team with such a huge financial backing and speaking from experience I noticed a bit of jealousy from opponents during my time at Man City. They’re thinking ‘this is the richest club in the world’, and that’s a feeling you just get used to. With that status comes a responsibility, and I’m really curious to see how things pan out for Newcastle over the coming months and years.

I’ve got nothing but admiration for the people of Newcastle Football Club. Their fans have been crying out for this sort of thing to happen for a long, long time. You just hope that the owners get it right.

I always felt really settled in Newcastle; I had a great connection with the fans. The stadium, and the atmosphere up there, it’s just a really special place to play football. I’ve spoken in the past about the transfer request early on at my time with the club, but that was purely down to me not playing. Rightly or wrongly, I thought I deserved to be starting week-in, week-out, and I’m not the sort of person who is going to take too kindly to sitting on the bench. The way I saw it, every week I was on that bench was a week of my career I was never going to get back. So when you hear of rumours flying around about other clubs paying an interest, of course you’re going to keep an open mind.

But if I’m honest, I never really saw myself leaving the club at all. If you connect with the supporters the way I did, it’s hard to walk away from something like that. That part of the country is a really special place – it means a lot to me. A lot of my friends and family still live around that way, so I’m always going to want the club to succeed.

It’s great to see my old team-mate Joe Hart playing with a smile on his face again

It’s great to see Joe Hart at Celtic, a team I’ve supported all my life. He’s number one again and that’s exactly what he needed after a tough few years. I think when you’re a goalkeeper and a club comes in for you with the intention of making you their number one, there’s no better feeling. I had the same at Manchester City. They could have gone with any goalkeeper in the world and they chose me. It’s a great feeling and all you want to do is prove to people why someone has put their trust in you – and Joe’s like me in that regard.

Joe Hart, Celtic

He’s a Premier League winner with so much experience. It’s just nice to see him back playing again and enjoying his football; that’s a big part of it. If Celtic do win the league this year, he’ll have been a big part of it. I’ve watched a lot of their games this season and he’s pulled off some big saves at key moments. It’s great to see him enjoying his football and playing with a smile on his face, because he had a frustrating few years there, definitely, and he’ll admit that himself.

I wished him well when he joined Celtic. Joe’s a bubbly character and he’s quite a lot like myself. He’s frustrated when he’s not playing and all he wants to do is prove to people he’s still capable of performing at the top level. Celtic is a massive club and I think sometimes people in England underestimate the size of the club, not just in Scotland but around the world – they’ve got a massive following. He’s joined a big club there, and with that comes an expectation from fans. Those supporters can be tough on the players when things aren’t going well, but Joe’s been received really well since he joined. It looks like the fans have really taken to him, which proves he’s doing a good job on the pitch.

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Warren Barner