Should Steve Harper Leave Newcastle?

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.

Sam admitted:

“I just thought that on his Arsenal performance it was the right thing to put him (Shay) back in.”

“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 – 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 – 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.

23 comments so far

  • LIAM J

    Sep 30, 2007 at 9:19 AM

    Comment #1

    I agree, he’s too good just to sit kicking his heels and because of his service he probably deserves to go for next to nowt. If so should we sell Given and keep Harper??????

  • david

    Sep 30, 2007 at 9:26 AM

    Comment #2

    What are you on about? Harper has played more games than Given this season. Harper’s lack of first team games in previous seasons is history. There is genuine competition for the goalkeeper’s jersey – what is wrong with that? And Given has become injury prone? STEVE SHOULD STAY!

  • Smiler

    Sep 30, 2007 at 9:33 AM

    Comment #3

    yes tbh id probs sell given and keep harper as hes a Geordie and just as good if not better than shay in some ways. id love to see him get into england squad as i reakon even now without alot of prem experience he is way better than robinson and james

  • Sandy McNair

    Sep 30, 2007 at 9:39 AM

    Comment #4

    David, There is no compitition for goal keepers in newcastle setup (and sam has proved no different) I have seen every minute of every newcastle game this season and harper has not put a foot wrong (as he has over the years), yet shay is put in (as he has over the years).

    Harper should leave for his own good he is a great keeper being wasted at newcastle, and good luck to him. I also think on a free (but unlikely) for such loyal service.

    Yes, Given is a fanastic keeper too. A good young reserve keeper is required. I dont know much about Tim Krull.

  • Bob

    Sep 30, 2007 at 9:39 AM

    Comment #5

    To be honest, Steve should leave. While Shay is here, he will never be number 1.

    Having said that, it’s nice to have these two fighting for the first team jersey.

  • Graeme

    Sep 30, 2007 at 10:08 AM

    Comment #6

    Steve Harper should stay, simply because he is a great keeper to have at the club. If, however, he did decide to leave, I would fully understand why and wish him well. He could certainly play every week in the Premiership and has to be considered good enough to play for England. He is a much better keeper than Calamity James!!!!

  • Sinead

    Sep 30, 2007 at 12:36 PM

    Comment #7

    And Given has become injury know they have fixed that.

    I don’t know if Shay’s the no.1 keeper, I want him to be don’t get me wrong, I think he should be like but I don’t know. I think Sam just let him start there on Sat to buy himself some time. I’ve a feeling Harper will play the next game, I don’t know why. I just think that he played Given there to take some pressure off him on deciding who he wants to be his no. 1.

    What Shay’s got against him though is the fact that a lot of people think that Harper should be England keeper, he’s probally the best of a bad bunch of keepers and if there’s pressure put on Sam (by the media, fans whatever) then well maybe Sam will crack, like he did with Owen. Anyway both are too good to sit on the bench and I can pretty much guarantee that only one will be here at the end of the season it’s more of a question of who do ye want to have at the end of the day. If it’s Harper and Sam lets Given go, well unfortunatley form is temporary and well at the end of the day Sam will probally live to regret it if he sells Given. BUt who knows.

  • apan

    Sep 30, 2007 at 12:54 PM

    Comment #8

    im tired of hearing this over and over again its irritating……

    here’s the pros and cons of given & harper

    harper is taller and bigger than given & its good for a gk to be huge
    harper is better at one & one because of his stature
    harper has longer hands than given means better cover
    harper has better communication than given

    given is more agile, faster and dive better than harper
    given goalkick is better than harper
    given is better with high balls
    given has more experience & play internationally

    both are equally good at shot stopping
    both are good friends
    both are at newcastle united

    harper played less game than given so sayin he doesnt have class is not fair for that lad, he have been tremendous in filling the shoes for given, and he should be rewarded for his fine form……form is temporary class is permanent? thats bullshit, CONSISTENSY & FORM that makes the player a CLASS

    sellin given is not a wise idea i agreed but selling given would generate more income than sellin harper because of his status, but i would rather keep them both…..oh ya and stop whinning about given all the time sinead,newcastle united have other players too that u can blab around about, cheers

  • Sinead

    Sep 30, 2007 at 1:03 PM

    Comment #9

    Ya apparently the only other one ye seem to care about (not criticise is Owen)

  • Callum

    Sep 30, 2007 at 1:08 PM

    Comment #10

    Give Given a few games and then swap again, that way both keepers will be on their heels this season.

  • hadrian

    Sep 30, 2007 at 1:43 PM

    Comment #11

    to late for him , and he likes it here .
    besides if were gunning for europe ect , we need quality cover for every position .
    id rotate , especially with given’s recent injury problems .

  • Sinead

    Sep 30, 2007 at 1:47 PM

    Comment #12

    Will that work though, that’s hard, especially for a keeper to keep form when doing that. They’re being messed around with a bit now I think it’s kinda unfair cause it’s like Sam doesn’t have 100% of confidence in either of them and then there’s rumours that’s he’s looking at the Bolton keeper aswell. It’s unfair on both the lads and he needs to put his full cofidence in one of them, for him to make up his mind because this way it’s like he’s waiting for one of them to make a mistake for the other to go in. It’s unfair on both of them, he needs to pick who his number 1 is but confidence behind him and then we’ll see them truely preform. Sam just has to make up his mind. Either way one of them will probally be gone come January/the end of the season. He just needs to make up his mind. Rotating them like outfield players wont work.

  • Neil A H

    Sep 30, 2007 at 2:06 PM

    Comment #13

    To be brutally honest I would rather have Harper and sell Given. Given is world class but Harper has proven that he could be as good as Given. Harper has shown more loyalty to NUFC than any other player in recent memory. Given would probably demand to be sold in January if Harper was number 1. I have not seen a difference in their performances this season. Sell Given and get some much needed creativity in midfield.

  • Sinead

    Sep 30, 2007 at 2:29 PM

    Comment #14

    See that’s what really annoys me, GIven has been there for almost as long as Harper. He could have, he should have walked, he could have gone to any other club but he didn’t he stayed and showed his loyalty. To be brutally honest as Neil A H put it, no one wanted Harper, you haven’t seen a difference in their preformance yet because you’ve seen Harper play all of the games so far except for the 2 SHay played now infairness you can’t get much prooved from that. Ye’re talking like Given is some sort of premodana that he’ll probally demand to be sold in January, where exactly are you reading this, what has he done or said to make ye think this like..nothing. He never complains, he never moans even when he was behind that “defense.”

    You’re telling me that if you were in his shoes, say you were at a team and you weren’t getting first team football and then someone offers you first team football at a different club, your telling me you wouldn’t think about going, But still all this demand to be sold thing is really getting on my nerves you’ve absolutley no proof what so ever, so what he handed in a transfer once about 6 years ago when he wasn’t getting first team football, that was ages ago like, is that the only thing ye’re going off. It’s like ye just made it up in yere heads, ye seem to love the old dramatics like.

  • Sinead

    Sep 30, 2007 at 2:33 PM

    Comment #15

    “Sell Given and get some much needed creativity in midfield” know Neil I’m actually done trying to defend him, I shouldn’t have to and I honestly can’t believe that I am. I don’t get why the vast majority of ye seem to actually hate him and want to get rid of him when all he’s done is well nothing except save ye countless of times.

  • squaretan

    Sep 30, 2007 at 4:27 PM

    Comment #16

    This issue went into my mind few seasons back. Harper is a really top draw keeper. He always performs whenever he is called upon. It is really a mystery why he is still in Newcastle cause with his keeping attributes i am pretty sure he will make number 1 in many EPL clubs.

    So for the sake of this lad, let him go and shine in other place. He has serve Newcastle long enough and he has been a very loyal servant to Newcastle.

  • Dave

    Sep 30, 2007 at 6:32 PM

    Comment #17

    @ Apan,
    There is no way you can say that Harper is better than GIven at one on ones thats givens territory. Also Given is a much better communicator than harper.Given is also Quite big, he is 6′ 1″ that is not small at all. these are proof that given should start

  • Andreas

    Sep 30, 2007 at 9:00 PM

    Comment #18

    @Sinead, since you persist with your constant moaning despite the fact that a majority of the writers here are with you on actual matters and quite a few have politly asked your to drop said moaning I have sadly lost patience and here comes some SHOUTING:



    Side note: As I’ve said on more than one previous occasion, you are of course as all of us entitled to you opinion and to express it. However, your point have been made crystal clear so since a while it’s just annoying (the last part is my opinion – and I dare bet a fair few others on this blog thinks the same!)

  • apan

    Oct 1, 2007 at 6:38 AM

    Comment #19

    to dave

    just sayin that based on a standard GOALKEEPING pov internationally, given is big but harper is much bigger, harper is better at one on one because of his stature but given is agile so his faster…bigger GK usually better at using their body@schemeichel for example because striker will felt more pressure & pace is uncessary during one on one unless just to smoothers the ball….pros and cons mate its up for u to judge jus viewing it on neutral POV not by status , read properly cheers~~

  • Bailey

    Oct 1, 2007 at 8:48 AM

    Comment #20

    Can anyone recall one club ever coming in for Harper in all the years he was on the bench. Given has a presence about him and he sure as hell fills me with confidence when I know he is playing. Sell Harper (think people will be surprised at the lack of interest from Premiership) and let Krul be understudy. Must say that Krul potential appeals to me more than the other two anyway.
    I know Alonso would love Harper to be playing against Liverpool.

  • Sandy McNair

    Oct 1, 2007 at 9:28 AM

    Comment #21

    I fully agree with Bailey, bad goal keeping error by Harper to be caught off his line like that as it made alonso look good.

    Harper will have to much better to beat the blooper by Given. “He’s Behind You”!

  • Rab

    Oct 1, 2007 at 2:24 PM

    Comment #22

    If we sell Given will Sinead stop posting?

  • Rab

    Oct 1, 2007 at 2:28 PM

    Comment #23

    Would be a shame to have either leave the club. Still think Given is the better keeper but cant fault Harper for his performances so far this season.


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