Sam Allardyce admitted yesterday he had to make a “really difficult decision” when he named Shay Given in goal at Manchester City ahead of Steve Harper.
Irish international Given began the season injured with that groin strain, and his close friend and rival Steve Harper started all previous six Premier League games this season.
Shay of course played in the Carling Cup at Arsenal four days earlier and had a good game.
Steve Harper – could play for England if he played regular first team football
After the game yesterday, which Newcastle lost 3-1 to Sven Goran Eriksson’s excellent Manchester City side, Big Sam said that having to choose between the two top keepers was tough.
“I just thought that on his Arsenal performance it was the right thing to put him (Shay) back in.â€
“It was a really difficult decision. If ever a player did not deserve to be dropped it was Steve, but I went with my gut feeling.”
It’s definitely unfortunate for Steve Harper who has hardly has put a foot wrong at Newcastle this season and has made some great saves for us. But we have to be brutally honest and wonder if the best career decision for Steve is really to stay at Newcastle to be Given’s back-up.
We are saying this because we think he is too good to keep warming the bench. He has 50 games in the Premiership for Newcastle after 14 seasons and if he had been at another club that figure could easily be beyond 300. His performances for us this season must have put him in line for an England call-up. We’ve said before that we’re not sure that staying at Newcastle has been good for Steve’s career â€“ because he just doesn’t get the number of games he should be playing with the talent he has.
We think if he played at another Premiership club he could force his way into the England squad and get better because of the extra playing time. He’s really unlucky to be at the same club as Shay â€“ and yes we know he’s a Geordie and doesn’t want to leave the club, and we’re sure he’s getting real good money at Newcastle, which he fully deserves. But he can do better career wise elsewhere.
If he wanted to move away, don’t be surprised if quite a few Premiership clubs come in for him. We can think of quite a few clubs who would snap him up. Right now he’s 28th in the Actim ratings of all Premiership players, with a rating of 86.
And he could be England’s goalkeeper.
Comments always welcome.