While Manchester City may bring in a few more high profile players in January, Shay Given could be on his way out. After finding himself warming the bench at Eastlands, Given is looking for guaranteed first-team football elsewhere.
It is understandable, though harsh, that manager Roberto Mancini opted for Joe Hart over Given. The young English keeper began the season at City right where he left off at Birmingham – in sensational form. With Hart’s star rapidly on the rise, his ascent to the number one spot was hard to deny, despite Given’s largely successful debut season in Manchester last year. With his abundant talents going to waste on the bench, it is not surprising that the Irishman is looking to play more than just a second fiddle.
That sentiment is fully understood by Mancini. “I told him that he can stay but I respect his decision and if he wants to leave he can,” the Italian said after his side’s 2-nil win against Wigan on Sunday.
The question then remains not when, but where? An obvious destination would be Given’s former club Newcastle United, where he played for 11 years. The move seems even more likely given the recent injury to Newcastle first-choice keeper Stephen Harper, who will be sidelined for three months after suffering shoulder ligament damage.
However, Magpies manager Chris Houghton quickly refuted that idea, saying, “I can understand that and it is a very emotional one, but no, I can say that won’t be happening.” It’s a telling statement, especially considering that Harper’s backup, 22-year-old youngster Tim Krul, has amassed a total of 4 matches at the club since 2006.
Another possible landing spot is the Emirates Stadium. There was reportedly mutual interest between the two parties last summer, and with Manuel Almunia still failing to live up to expectations, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger may consider an upgrade if the price is right. The key words there, though, are “if the price is right”. Wenger pursued Fulham keeper Mark Schwartzer throughout last summer’s transfer window, but even after having several bids rejected, the club refused to budge on its £4 million offer (an amount they actually submitted on two separate occasions).
So if Wenger does want to land Given, he will likely have to pay a substantial sum, not just because of Given’s quality, but also because he is negotiating with a club who aims to compete for one of the “Big Four” spots Arsenal currently occupies. The move would almost definitely work out well for both Given and Arsenal, but the evidence of the last few years of club spending points to an unlikely deal.
His destination may be unclear, but Given won’t be stranded at City for too long if the club is indeed willing to let him go. When a keeper of his quality is up for grabs, he is usually not up for grabs for very long.
Around The League
Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has been sidelined after suffering a hamstring injury during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Sunderland. The club confirmed on their website that the Spaniard would be out for “two to three weeks”. Fabregas offered a more optimistic timeline, though, telling Spanish radio station COPE that he would be back in time for Arsenal’s October 3rd showdown with London rivals Chelsea.
His manager was also sidelined, albeit through suspension rather than injury. Wenger was charged with improper conduct after complaining to officials during the Sunderland match. He was unhappy with the referee’s decision to let play continue beyond the four minutes of allotted injury time, and he launched a tirade against fourth official Martin Atkinson on the touchline after Darren Bent equalized for the Black Cats in the 95th minute. Wenger admitted the charge and served a one-match touchline ban during Arsenal’s 4-1 victory against Tottenham in the Carling Cup on Tuesday. He was also fined £8,000.
In more serious news, Sunderland defender Titus Bramble was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of raping a 20-year-old woman in a Newcastle hotel. Bramble was held for questioning by detectives and was released on bail Wednesday evening. Sunderland have supported the player, and chairman Nial Quinn said in a statement, “This has been a very difficult day for everyone at the football club, no one more so than Titus, who categorically refutes the allegations that have been made against him. He strenuously denies any wrongdoing and will be doing everything within his power to clear his name. I as chairman, and the club as a whole, totally support Titus in his efforts and we all hope for a swift conclusion to this matter.”