Given or Harper? No, It’s About Newcastle

Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce has told Steve Harper his close friend Shay Given will have to fight for his place back once he is fit, after suffering yet another groin injury that is related to the terrible bowel injury he sustained over a year ago at West Ham United.

The 32-year-old goalkeeper was devastated to miss out after performing well as the Irishman’s deputy earlier in the season when Given recovered from the groin injury which had sidelined him at the start of the campaign.


Newcastle’s Two Excellent Goalkeepers – Harper and Given

Steve Harper, as we all know played in six of the first seven games of the season, missing only the 2-0 Carling Cup second-round victory over Barnsley on August 29 when he was rested. Given also came in for the next Carling Cup game against Arsenal at the Emirates, and Sam, after saying before the game that Harper would be back in goal against Manchester City, changed his mind. And Shay Given kept his place in goal and has been in there ever since.

However, Shay’s run in the team – it was only 5 games, in which we conceded 10 goals – ended last Saturday when a groin injury kept him out of the starting line-up at the last moment. Steve came back into the side for the horror show that was the Portsmouth game.

We think Big Sam is a big admirer of Steve Harper and think he appreciates Steve’s loyalty to Newcastle, even though he’s not played too many games in the 13 years he’s been on Newcastle’s books. Steve will keep his place for Saturday’s crucial derby trip to Sunderland, with Given still facing another couple of weeks in the treatment room. Sam this week admitted Steve will stay in goal if his performances warrant it – but what else is he supposed to say?

Big Sam said:

“Steve will be in goal for however many games he performs well in.

“Shay will be out for a couple of weeks or so, then hopefully he stays as fit as he can.”

“I bet David James had more saves to make in the first half last week than Stevie Harper, and you cannot blame him for any of the goals.”

We cannot believe we’re going to have another goalkeeper squabble, as to who should be first choice. But if Steve comes in and plays to the best of his considerable ability, it’s going to be hard for Sam to drop him again. Maybe it will be that much harder the second time around.

But we’re missing the point here. The major thing for Newcastle this season is the team, and we are in desperate need of a good streak of games to get back on track in the league. The target this season has to be European qualification – whatever anybody says – that’s the real goal and we need to achieve it. And we’ll do it with the squad of players we have – hopefully improved come January.

Comments welcome.

19 comments so far

  • Arthur Prince

    Nov 8, 2007 at 6:11 PM

    Comment #1

    Absolutely ED . The team is what matters . Ifthe players realise that and accept that they wont play all the games then the Team will eventually do well . Otherwise they will have to leave presumably . Europe next year as Ive said before UEFA cup to start with is the goal

  • Steve

    Nov 8, 2007 at 6:36 PM

    Comment #2

    really really looking foward to a clean sheet and a win against the scums..we can’t go on with this kind of losing streak. it’s not good for us and the team. i just hope BSA gets his tactics right,shakes them up so that they get their ideas right and PLAY FOOTBALL. we just want to see that. nothing else.

  • John

    Nov 8, 2007 at 7:53 PM

    Comment #3

    What is the big fuss about who plays for newcastle? we need to WIN… 3points. i don’t care which keeper plays. however, i do find that harper can’t seem to keep his mouth shut everytime he starts. and its seem that the more he opens his mouth, the more mistakes he make. my goodness…

  • JDJ

    Nov 8, 2007 at 8:23 PM

    Comment #4

    I definitely agree that it is about the team, but we all know how important a confident goalkeeper is to team success. I don’t believe that Big Sam is going about this correctly at all times, but as the coach it is his perogative. I hope he finds an answer to this issue that brings stability, not more decision making. Cheers!

  • Bill f

    Nov 8, 2007 at 9:28 PM

    Comment #5

    There is a very good young lad with Marseille on loan to them from our French nursery club who might be worth a look. Name of Mandala (must be Tibetan or something). I don’t think either of our 2 are really good enough any more.

  • Tom_Toon

    Nov 8, 2007 at 9:42 PM

    Comment #6

    You mean Mandanda lol hes on loan from Le Havre and yes he is a good goalie but not as good as our 2 boys atm.

  • Hammy

    Nov 8, 2007 at 9:45 PM

    Comment #7

    Both are great keepers, but I think they lack presence, That blonde Danish twat for MANURE had a great presence and I bet most of the back four were scared shitless of him.
    A bit late now but if either of these boys had that they would have been world class, more so Given as good as he is.

  • Bill f

    Nov 8, 2007 at 9:54 PM

    Comment #8

    Actually Tom-Toon I think he is, our lads I think are on the slippery slope and agree with Hammy, they lack the physical presence needed to dominate their area and (sacrilege I know Sinead) don’t think they were ever that good anyway. A goalie can always look better in front of a bad defence which they usually were. I will now retire to my bunker and await the flak.

  • Hammy

    Nov 8, 2007 at 10:06 PM

    Comment #9

    Howdy Bill, room in the trench?

  • Bill f

    Nov 8, 2007 at 10:16 PM

    Comment #10

    Bring your own flak jacket

  • Eve

    Nov 8, 2007 at 10:31 PM

    Comment #11

    Bill f. I think that’s a bit unfair, Shay’s a very good keeper, as is Harper like I’ve seen Shay preform for both Newcastle and Ireland for years he’s been very good and has saves both countless of times. A bad defense reveals how good a keeper is, a good defense hides that, like Chelsea, and makes a keeper look better. I don’t think Cech is all that he’s said to be.

    I think that Shay is deffinatley the better keeper but I think it’s obvious that Sam prefers Steve. Which I think is a stumbling block really cause it’s always dangerous, well bad when a manager picks who he prefers over who should be on the pitch, that forces people to leave and I don’t see both being at the club at the end of the season, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen favouritism with Sam, like the Martins and Owen thing. He tends to do it alot and there’s inconsistancy in the squad aswell which is kinda frustrating. I think he should know his best squad by now. When Shay comes back from this and they’re saying he could make the Irish game now, and he’s been named in the squad as well, so it shouldn’t be that long, hopefully it wont be that long so basically Steve will only have one game in goal while Shay’s injured and Shay might get a game back if he’s fit for Wales, where he could proove himself..again. I think that that’s where Harper lacks, he’s not an international so if Shay goes away and plays a blinder agaist Wales (I think it’s Wales) then what choice would Sam have but to put Shay back in, I think then that’d be interesting if that happened cause we’d see then who Sam prefers.
    So we’ll have to wait and see what’ll happen after that, if he makes the Welsh game or not. But personally I think that Shay is the better keeper. I think most people do. I think it’s a close call (unless you’re Sinead) but I still think that Shay deffinatley shades it.

  • Bill f

    Nov 8, 2007 at 11:09 PM

    Comment #12

    I never said he was a bad keeper, I think he just lacked that something to make him a great keeper. Such as Schmiecal or Khan someone big and strong who scares the sh*te out of opposition forwards and controls the defenders in front of him. Our lads are both good stoppers but high balls into the middle they just cannot deal with neither now or in the past. Sorry but I stand by what I said.

  • Eve

    Nov 9, 2007 at 12:50 AM

    Comment #13

    Fair enough, I think that the only thing that he ever lacked was height which I think restricts what people think of him as a keeper, he’s not as threating in his area if ya know what I mean, if he was big and scary then who knows but like these are Irish lads we’re talking talking about scrawny and small.

  • Leo

    Nov 9, 2007 at 1:24 AM

    Comment #14

    bills right like, they arnt scary enough. haha, oliver khan sure is scary when he shouts at his defence, they defo do what he tells them

  • indian toon

    Nov 9, 2007 at 1:44 AM

    Comment #15

    we’ve had enough of tapeering around in the team.. nw lets get a solid team for the derby and stick to a consistent 11…

  • Len

    Nov 9, 2007 at 4:56 AM

    Comment #16

    Im in the trench with Bill. There are both OK but neither is a Gordon Banks. Of the two I probably prefer Harper.

  • Arthur Prince

    Nov 9, 2007 at 8:51 AM

    Comment #17

    It will be interesting to seewhat happens if Jaaskelainen does come to us in Jan whether he will become the number 1 !
    It is unfortunate that Shay,s problem with his injury keeps reoccuring . It needs sorting out I also think Shay is the better Goalie but is just a little on the small side at 6ft tall for Sam .

  • yemozone

    Nov 9, 2007 at 9:41 AM

    Comment #18

    If jaaskelainen eventually comes,SURely he will be sam’s no.1….SE NTIMENT

  • Eve

    Nov 9, 2007 at 5:36 PM

    Comment #19

    yemozone, ya I think that if jaaskelainen comes Shay will leave.


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