This Is Villa Park

This Is Villa Park

Monday, August 29, 2011

Number 1: Shay Given

Once upon a time, in a land far away, Liffon to be exact, a baby boy was born. They named him Seamus, gifted with the power of becoming one of the best Premier League goalkeepers. Even if he had to spend a year wandering whether that power should be ignored.
That was a little cheesy but I wan't sure how to start it, unless I did it the boring way. Shay Given joined us this summer. Offered an escape route and £20k pay cut out of Manchester City to B6.
The departure of Brad Friedel upset most, diasppointed others, while the others pondered who would be able to fill the American's boots, not disrespect them. Alan McGregor, Robert Green, Ali Al Habsi, were thrown about; then Given's name was added to the claret and blue cauldron. The Villa Park faithful were split in half, one side doubting his services, questioning the lack of play over the past year and how easily he gets injured, the other pleased with the rumour. I'd always been an admirer, and still am, of Shay but refused to comment on the possible move.

Now, I can't stop singing his praises, especially after watching Friedel concede five yesterday plus another three against the red half of Manchester.

Brad Friedel conceded fifty-nine goals from thirty-eight Premier League games. Many say Brad Friedel saved us, however I don't think that's the case at all. We weren't scoring goals at the other end, there's not question about that, and we hadn't got a strong back four at all, but our former number one could of and should have done better. We didn't just lose to Manchester City 4-0 and 3-0 last season because we were struck with injuries or just fielded a weakened team, Friedel just couldn't keep them out.
Already this season, Shay Given has kept two clean sheets and only conceded just one goal. Improvement already? Yes. After three games last season, we had kept two clean sheets an conceded a huge six goals.
He's a quick fact-file on our Irish man:
Strengths: A shot-stopper with lightning reflexes.
Weaknesses: His defensive organisation at both Newcastle and City have come under scrutiny, however this - from the first three games at Aston Villa - seemed sorted. Some say he can't deal with crosses and deliveries into the box but I haven't seen that as a problem or weakness.
Style: A highly-rated keeper with a knack for producing jaw-dropping saves.
"I speak to two or three big managers who are my friends and they ask if I think Given can play in Italy with them. With his personality and quality, I feel he is as good as Gianluigi Buffon." Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni, November 2008.

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