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News and Commentary On Newcastle United Football Club By Ed Harrison, A Proud Exiled Geordie And Lifelong Fan

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Newcastle Servant Harper Determined to keep Place

7:50 am, Saturday, September 8th, 2007 by Ed Harrison · 22 Comments

News yesterday that Steve Harper has thought about leaving Newcastle before now. That’s not at all surprising as Steve has been on the bench a long time over his Newcastle career, playing second fiddle to Irish International Shay Given

However, even though Harper has been a great servant of the club we’ve always believed that as far as his career goes if he had left Newcastle and played regular Premiership football, he would have been an England International by now.

That’s especially true of late with goalkeepers James and Robinson not exactly being mistake free when playing for their country.

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Steve Harper – determined to keep his place

Steve Harper now admits he is determined to keep his place in the Newcastle team and it’s going to be very interesting when Given returns from international duty next week. We do believe that Harper will keep his place for the game at Derby County on Saturday, and at the latest Given will play in one of the 3 games in 6 days coming up. Whether Given makes too much of not being in the team, as he did a few years ago under Sir Bobby Robson, remains to be seen. But we don’t expect him to under Big Sam’s guidance.

This is what Steve said yesterday.

“It has been difficult at times and I can’t deny there have been times when I’ve questioned my decision to stay here,” “A lot of people have said the manager’s decision to keep me in the team sends out the right signals. I’ve got the jersey and it’s up to me to keep it. It will be down to me if I lose it and that’s what you want in the team.”

“I’m determined to hang on to the shirt, even if Shay is a friend. The long periods I’ve been on the bench have been the hardest period of my professional life and, now I’m in the team, I want to stay there. You do hear stories about goalkeepers at other clubs who don’t get on, but Shay and I have been together for the best part of 10 years.”

“We have a good relationship on and off the field. It’s difficult when one has to miss out on match day, but we both know that is football and we are supportive of each other.”

Steve has been a great servant of the club and is well respected within the squad of course. But has he impacted his career by staying at his home town club?

Comments on this welcome – we have also opened up a new discussion point on our Newcastle United Forum to discuss the Given – Harper competition. Certainly Steve has been first rate this season and it’s hard to leave somebody out who been playing faultlessly for the team.

Comments welcome.



Tags: Newcastle News · Players · Steve Harper



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22 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Phil // Sep 8, 2007 at 8:46 AM

    There is no doubt in my mind that Harper would be in the England team if he was playing regularly. He is a class goalkeeper and we are very lucky to have him at Newcastle.

    I do think that Given is the better keeper though, but the way he is playing right now, it would be unfair to drop him.

    I would really like to see him have a good run in the side and get that England cap he deserves. I think most Newcastle fans feel the same way after the tremendous service he has given the club it would be great to see him playing for England.

  • 2 Lin // Sep 8, 2007 at 9:03 AM

    Harper is good but Given is better. However, Given should not try to force into the team by warning or giving presure to the manager. We know Harper has been on the bench for most of the ten years without too many complaints. Given and Harper are friends as Harper mentioned. I think Given should be patient and think about Harper’s professional attitude of being subs. On top of that, Given has injury problem in the same position so he’d better not be too panic.

  • 3 Lamesley Mag // Sep 8, 2007 at 9:54 AM

    This season could be make or break for Harper who may want to leave at the end of it to play regular first team football, possibly even international football!

    With Krull coming of age and likely back at Newcastle for next season, Newcastle may cash in on Harper and offer the second team jersey to Krull for a few seasons.

    Keeping 2 decent goalkeepers happy is difficult, when Krull returns we’ll have 3 and BSA will have his hands full.

  • 4 Sinead // Sep 8, 2007 at 12:03 PM

    Harper’s ok, Given’s alot better, it’s that simple, well it should be. But it’s not because English football is in a bit of a mess right now and some people believe that Harper should be given a lash at being England’s no. 1 ..

    “Given is one of the best in Europe, and for the past couple of years I have believed that if Harper was getting regular first-team football he would have a chance of playing for England.”

    That there, is the reason why Harper has played ahead of Given this season so far.

  • 5 Joe // Sep 8, 2007 at 1:18 PM

    What you on about Sinead? The reason that Harps has been played ahead of Given this season is because Given has been struggling with injury! I read some of your other posts about this matter and you seem very keen on Given getting his place back in the starting eleven but what message does that send out to our other players in terrific form..doesn’t matter how well you play, as soon as the big guns come back YOU’RE OUT! Not fair is it? And not good for competition in the side!

  • 6 Sinead // Sep 8, 2007 at 1:32 PM

    NO I mean this season so far, I don’t mean when Given was injured. Your right, so does that mean the same about Owen?? Ya right.

  • 7 Joe // Sep 8, 2007 at 2:07 PM

    Given was injured this season hence why Harps was given his run out in the team. Like I’ve said on other posts I really like ol’ Seamus, he’s my favourite player and has been a while but it doesn’t really say much for competition for places if the big name can just stroll back into the starting 11. Plus, Shay hasn’t looked fully fit since coming back from injury, I would even question why Staunton has picked him, considering he is still looking a bit shakey after his car-crash type injury!

    But I agree that the media are pouncing on this situation and trying to dislodge the team spirit we currently have. If NUFC are looking to play 40-50 games this season than there’s no reason that BSA can’t balance both Shay and Harps between the posts.

  • 8 Sinead // Sep 8, 2007 at 2:40 PM

    Grand I see your point, but you didn’t answer my question, does the rules apply to Owen.

    Given’s been fit for the las 3 or so weeks. Why should we not be allowed play him just cause Sam wont. We actually need him. Apparently unlike ye. I can see us qualifing for the Euro’s if the lads play their best and get the goals but Shay is a massive part of our plan. We need him to win, to qualify and these 2 games we have comming up here are so important. Everything is riding on these 2 matches.

  • 9 Joe // Sep 8, 2007 at 3:24 PM

    I don’t think Owen should be guaranteed a starting role no. But again, his form has been good so I would like to see Martins/Owen up front together.

    Given hasn’t been completely fit for the last few weeks at all, he’s still looked shaky and when you come back from a car-crash type injury like he had you don’t just whack on your gloves and play against the countries finest…you need rehabilitation and time to get yourself to a proper standard. I can’t really see why Staunton has insisted on using Given given the circumstances, don’t think it’s gonna benefit player, club or country if Given aggravates his injury!

  • 10 Sinead // Sep 8, 2007 at 4:19 PM

    How do you know that Owen’s been good. NO more improtantly how do you know that he hasn’t been completely fit for the last few weeks?? He’s not been played. Given is over that injury and he’s over what happened like almost a year ago. He’s played countless of matches since then and he’s not looked any different then his old self. Like his first save after comming back, was against Arsenal at the feet of one of the Arsenal players.

    He is over it. We’ve seen no reason to think other wise.

    Given is fully fit, believe me if he wasn’t he wouldn’t be playing because we’ve Henderson and Doyle as back up, he’s bringing an extra keeper on to the bench. Plus we need him and he’s been itching to go for weeks now. He wouldn’t of played that match for Newcastle if he wasn’t.

    Like I said we NEED him, he’s part of our plan to qualify, we can’t do it WITHOUT him. He deserves to be able to show the rest of the world what he can do, he doesn’t get to do that with Newcastle he showed it in 2002 and he was amazing then and he’s gotten so much better since then, he didn’t get the chance last year not qualifing, which we should have the team let him down alot in the WC qualifiers, he’d put us in a position that we didn’t deserve to be in, in the end all we needed to do was score 1 goal. They couldn’t do that for him. After the final whistle against Switzerland, it was heartbreaking like, the crowd went from eerily quiet one minute to giving an emotional standing ovation to Given as he left the pitch and he left to a chorus of “There’s only ONE Shay Given” It was enough to break anyones heart, I’ve never seen anyone look so dejected in my life, cause like everyone knew that if anyone deserved to go to Germany it was him.

    We realised that though, we realised that thanks to him we were still in it, thanks to him we had the opportunity. It’s nice to give recognation to someone who deserves it, not just cause they scored a goal.

    We needed him then and we need him now, we’re not the same side without him and I’m not afraid to admit that, you don’t have to be a goal scorer to be a hero. He’s ours.

  • 11 Sinead // Sep 8, 2007 at 4:27 PM

    COme on Joe Owen’s played 2 OK matches. Scored once. Martins is a lot better but when it comes down to it OWen will be picked ahead 90% of the time because he’s Owen, because he’s English. YOu don’t think that he should be guaranteed a starting role, well you’re probally about the only Toon fan who thinks so.

    Owen will keep getting game time ahead of Martins and if Harper continues not making mistakes he will stay there aswell. Why because he’s English. It doesn’t matter how good Martins or Given play there’s nothing they can do about it .

    Why, because England are struggling and the English fans aren’t exactly patient. They want Owen, who they’ll think will save them, but really he’s not a shadow of himself and if there’s even a whisper that Harper could play for England then he’ll keep being played for Newcastle. Because England doesn’t have a good keeper at the momento and Harper is ok. So if the MEDIA say that if Harper plays more Newcastle games he’ll get onto the English team then Harper will play more games.

  • 12 Joe // Sep 9, 2007 at 3:05 PM

    Why would Sam Allardyce – a man responsible for bringing in nearly as many foreigners in the league as Wenger, a man who was turned away from the head England position – give a shiny shite if he is playing English internationals or not? His Bolton team certainly didn’t have many to boast did it!

    Was you’re implying Sinead, sub consciously or not, is that there is a racist regime at NUFC, intent on keeping foreigners out of the starting 11!!! How you quite came to this conclusion is beyond me, but Sam is a manager with a far superior insight into sports science than you or I and I’m sure his decision to bring Owen back slowly (despite the media and the fans demanding his immediate return) was well judged and wise. And when he is fit – like he has proved by scoring three goals in three games – is that Owen is exactly the sort of poacher that NUFC and England need and opposition defences fear!

    If you read my posts I’m not saying leave Given out immediately – nor Martins for that matter – I’m just suggesting that every player at NUFC is justifying a starting role at the moment and that a rotation policy seems the fairest option.

    I appreciate you want to support your countryman, but do you seriously believe that team spirit would be improved if the so-called back up players believed they were simply biding time before the big names come back and steal their rightful places?

    And another thing…You say that Owen hasn’t played recently and Given has played loads…What games have you been watching?

  • 13 Sinead // Sep 9, 2007 at 6:33 PM

    I am not implying that there is rasicm in NUFC. If you read my points fully then you would no that. I said that England is struggling right now and that the fans want Owen back and Robinson isn’t exactly good. The fans and the media put pressure on the side, and if there are even whispers that Harper should get in to the English squad but only if he plays more games then he more then likely will play more games, it’s pressure, it’s English football politics.

    ALl I’m saying is that there seems to be double standards here, Given doesn’t deserve to go straight back in but Owen does..why?? Oh because he can score GOALS. The key words, ye’re happy enough if no one is screwing up at the back, if Harper isn’t making many mistakes then leave him in there but because he think Owen is better then Martins he should go straight back in.

    Owen used to put the fear of God into the opposition. Ya he’s scored 3 goals, great. But he’ll never be the same as he was. (he has faults too, no one seems to highlight them at all)

    Given, like, he’s better then Harper, he’s alot better. Now if he keeps loosing his place to Harper then maybe he should leave, he’s done enough for ye. Now I can understand how unfair it might seem to Harper, I’m sure it feels just as unfair to the likes of Martins or whoever it happens to be who looses their spot to Owen. You say that Owen’s prooved himself, he’s been given that chance, Given hasn’t been, and you’re telling me that we should wait till Harper makes a mistake..ie..gives a way a goal, costs ye points, till Given gets his chance again?? Why because he hasn’t made an obvious mistakes. I’ve seen goals scored against Harper that I would nearly guarantee that Shay could save. I see how unfair it might seem but what, he can go back in when Harper makes a mistake, and in the meantime the better keeper can sit on the bench and not be given a chance to proove himself.

    Owen’s been played and been able to proove himself, so why not give Given a chance??

    You’re last comment makes no sense I said nothing what so ever like that.

  • 14 Joe // Sep 10, 2007 at 12:02 AM

    Let’s get this clear..I don’t think Harps has a chance in hell of getting picked for England now. An uncapped keeper at his age won’t even be considered. I think he’s worthy, and many do but it won’t happen. So I don’t think Sam is under any kind of pressure to pick Harps to get him a shot at international level..that’s rubbish!

    If you watch NUFC games, you’ll see Owen hasn’t ‘gone straight back’ into the side at all. it’s been a gradual progression to fitness that has taken ages, with a few sub appearances here and there. The reason that this hasn’t happened with Given (and I thought it was rather obvious but go figure) is that bringing Owen back as a sub here and there is an easy thing to do as he is an outfield player who – in the game gets injured – can be replaced by another outfield player on the bench….Whereas if Seamus comes on to replace Harps as a sub and gets injured, NUFC are in the rather uncomfortable situation of having no one to stand between the posts for the remainder of the game!!

    Unfortunately for Shay and his fans NUFC have been winning games and conceding very few goals under Harps so it isn’t such a straight cut decision for Sam. If Harps had been performing badly then Shay would be back in, but he hasn’t so there! It’s very simple and nothing do with English politics at all (refer to para.1)

    Owen does have faults. And they are constantly referred to. Like another NUFC legend Andy Cole, Owen will get goals – but he’ll need five or six attempts to do it! I don’t think Owen is a finished product and I don’t think he is at full sharpness. But how is that ever going to happen if he isn’t getting games? His game is changing – his age and injury have forced that to happen – and if you saw that game against Israel you’ll understand that his quickness and sharpness have disappeared but have been replaced with other qualities i.e.one helluva shot outside the area

    Noone is disputing Shays talents and he probably is a better keeper than Harps…nay scatch that…he IS a better keeper than Harps! But the local lad has been doing himself proud and deserves his shot and if Shay isn’t prepared to spend some time on the bench waiting then perhaps he is better elsewhere. I think however that the argument is void as I think we will be seeing more of Shay soon. There are three games next week and Shay will undoubtedly been involved in at least one.

    I understand you’re a massive fan of Given – so am I – but no player is bigger than the club and deserves to be given a spot on reputation alone.

  • 15 Sinead // Sep 10, 2007 at 8:18 AM

    Ya I now that’s it’s harder to give keepers a run in cause well they’re keepers but you’re talking about GIven like he’s going to snap if the ball touches him. He’s not injured anymore the problem that was there is fixed.

    If the media want Harper to play then Harper probally will play.

    I know full well that no player is bigger then their team, Given knows that, not sure about Owen though.

  • 16 Sinead // Sep 10, 2007 at 8:31 AM

    If it’s what the media want then ya Harper will play, I know that it’s a lot easier to give an outfield player a run out then it is to give a keeper like but you talk about Given as if he would break in half if a ball touched him, he’s fit and the problem that was there is gone, he wouldn’t be allowed to be played other wise.

  • 17 Joe // Sep 10, 2007 at 2:35 PM

    The risk element is still there. But I have no doubt that Given will play in at least one game coming up soon. I just don’t think Harps should be disregarded so quickly..he has let in very little so far this season.

  • 18 Sinead // Sep 10, 2007 at 4:51 PM

    There’s risk element every time any player goes onto the pitch. I think that Martins shouldn’t be either or the other strikers who’ve been playing well and not done anything wrong but they will be, and THAT’s not fair. We know that Given is better then Harper, we don’t know if Owen is better then the others, he used to be, no doubt about that but now?? He’s screwed up his knee so badly like, you can’t recover from that fully, not that kind of injury. But my point is everyone else will be disregarded because of Owen, but when it comes to Given, well Harper’s doing ok so lets leave him there for the time being. DOuble standards.

  • 19 Joe // Sep 10, 2007 at 6:57 PM

    It’s not double standards. I can’t see how you think Owen’s injury can cause him to be ‘a different player’ but Givens can’t!! There were real fears for Givens life when he first burst his bowel; it was far worse than Owen’s injury! We haven’t seen Given play properly since then and in my opinion – for his own well being, if nothing else – a fully fit Harps justifies a place over Given who admits himself he needs fuller training sessions with the NUFC staff.

    I’m not sure why you keep bringing Owen into the argument anyway. I don’t think he always should start above Martins…I’ve said repeatedly I’d like to see them play alongside each other in a 4-3-1-2

  • 20 Sinead // Sep 10, 2007 at 11:03 PM

    At the time his injury WAS worse ya, but he RECOVERED from that injury and now there is no implications from it except having to build up muscles in his middle core that caused him to get the groin injuries. Other then that, there’s no problem with it, nothing that effects him medically or otherwise. Owen though had a really serious injury to his knee and it restricts him, he’ll never be the same as he was. We’ve seen Given play a good few times when he came back, after that injury. Before he got injured again. Given was outstanding against Slovakia and couldn’t do anything about the 2 goals, the first one he couldn’t dive through his own player who was standing on the post, horrific defending of a set piece might I add and the 2nd goal Paul McShane and John O Shea got in eachothers way and Given didn’t see the ball till it was too late. Given was hitting the form of his life before he got injured and if we can take anything from Sat night then that hasn’t gone away, if anything he’d improved.

    He, along with Dunne kept us in it.

    I keep bringing Owen in because there IS double standards, wheter you can see it or will admit it or not. Fine lets not use Martins, use Ameobi or whoever will loose their place to Owen, none of them deserve to be droped, none of them have made mistakes, but the reality is because it’s Owen and they will be droped. Playing Martins and Owen together, lets pretend that that’s not an option, ye’d have Owen being picked ahead all the time. Which is pretty much condraticting what you’re saying..no ones bigger then their team?? Owen seems to be.

  • 21 Joe // Sep 14, 2007 at 12:55 PM

    “Owen will never be the same again” I keep hearing that from the critics yet his goal scoring record in recent games has been great… didn’t he just score two goals against Russia as well, sure I read that somewhere haha!

    So who would play upfront against Derby then Sinead? You seem to have a vendetta against Owen…can’t really be much of a NUFC fan can you?

  • 22 Sinead // Sep 14, 2007 at 6:49 PM

    He’s not much of a NUFC player, No I’m not, I allready said that I wasn’t. I can’t understand how ye are all so crazy about a guy who took up till the end of the summer trying to find a way out of his contract and stayed basically out of guilt. So what he’s scored 3 goals, that’s what he’s supposed to do, being able to score goals, that’s only a part of his job he will never be the same again.

    Ye are all so quick to defend this guy who like I said spent the whole summer deciding if he was going to stay, stringing everyone along, looking for a way out of his contract and then evebtually decided to stay out of guilt or because he’d no offers which I don’t think he had, either way that’s no loyalty, that’s no respect but yere keeper who’s stuck with ye for 10 years turning down Arsenal and other stronger clubs everytime and he gets injured and suddenly, it’s meh, we don’t need him anymore Harper hasn’t made many mistake and since ye haven’t lost yet, the competition might I add wasn’t really top table, so why bother changing it, scoring goals right?? Of course the most important thing.

    So what Harper kept 2 whole clean sheets against who??

    2 goals against..Russia wow well done that most of been challenging, I could name a hell lot of players who could run rings around Owen, they wouldn’t of been able to a few years ago (well). Given made a couple of fantastic saves (might I add one being at the bottom of a Czech players feet. Yet something tells me that that wont matter. Sam’s just said it was easy to drop Shay and it looks like Harper isn’t going anywhere from in between the post. SO what do ya know, Sam does prefer Harper, now where did I hear that before.




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