The Curious case of Goalkeepers: Shay Given and Joe Hart
THE CURIOUS CASE OF SHAY GIVEN AND JOE HART
The saga between goalkeepers and criticism in England has been a long one. Be it the English national team to the club teams, one costly mistake and everybody is ready to take out their swords and point it towards the goalkeeper.
There are hardly a few teams in the world which has world class reserve keepers as well. The biggest name which comes to my mind is that of the Spanish national team. Their top 3 goalkeepers in the form of Casillas, Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes form possibly the best goalkeeping trio in recent times. Name any top team from Chelsea to Manchester United, Arsenal to Inter Milan, you would surely find situations when the reserve goalkeeper made blunders after called into action. Many teams have yet to find a consistent goalkeeper. But the problem with Manchester city is something different .
Manchester City signed Shay Given last season from Newcastle United in what was billed to be a top notch signing. He was instrumental in what turned out to be a fruitful season for the citizens. Yet he found himself rooted to the bench in the opening game of the season. The reason ?
The goalie who has been the best goalkeeper in England last season. Such was his impact that Fabio Capello had to seriously ponder his situation before finalizing the goalkeeper’s slot at the world cup. His outstanding season for Birmingham where he singlehandedly led Birmingham at many times has made him the favourite for the No. 1 shirt for the English national team.
Roberto Mancini, followed suit and gave him the starting position against Tottenham in a crucial encounter which speaks volumes of the confidence he has on Joe Hart. Birmingham had repeatedly wanted the shot stopper to continue his stint for the blues but Mancini repeatedly denied the request.
Given has reiterated his desire to leave Eastlands if he falls down the pecking order. Even Joe Hart, who understands that he would be the No. 1 sooner rather than later commented that he understands the reasons why Shay Given would like to leave.
On the wrong side of the thirties, Given needs ample playing opportunities rather than sit on the bench and retire. Hart, on the other hand, very well knows that a starting place at Manchester City week in and week out will only confirm him as the Engalnd No 1 .
Joe Hart has all the attributes to be a top goalkeeper and Roberto Mancini has, by preferring him, clearly indicated that he wants him to be in the reckoning for a long time. But the puzzling thing has been his relationship with Given.
Reports suggest that he would not like a situation where he would have to sell Given as he knows that replacing him is almost impossible. So, he is ready to shift his goalkeepers from time to time which might harm the teams prospects in the league.
Speaking of record, Given is the third goalkeeper on the list of the max number of appearances and he has been one of the best goalkeepers in the league for the last decade. A consistent performer, he has not lost his agility, guile and fitness levels a bit. He has also obtained record caps for Ireland.
However a terrific season for Birmingham made all the difference for Joe Hart. Records don’t always tell the truth !
Whatever be the case, the fans can expect and interesting duel between the two in the time to come. I, however predict Given to leave Eastlands very soon. Is he on his way to Fulham or Arsenal ?