There is something satisfying to have Steve Harper in the Newcastle goal, now that Shay Given elected to leave the club in January.
Steve Harper – Tim and Fraser will be breathing down his neck
We on the blog always thought that Steve could have been a starting goalkeeper at another Premier League club, but as everybody knows, he elected to stay at his local club and fight for the first team spot.
But as Shay Given made close to 460 appearances for the team since 1997, and was twice voted the best PL goalkeeper by his peers, Steve made only around 110, so he was nearly always second choice goalkeeper, although reckoned to be one of the best back-ups in the Premier League.
Steve now has his chance to be the first team goalkeeper at Newcastle for a few years, but will have two 20 year-olds breathing down his neck for an opportunity.
Tim Krul – who has been on loan at Carlisle United and Falkirk – and Hexham-born Fraser Forster, who has been at Stockport on loan for first team experience, are now alternating as Harper’s back-up for each game.
Steve Harper seems to believes that one of the two will eventually succeed him:
“I’m not taking anything for granted because there is Tim Krul and Fraser Forster behind me,”
“I think there is a week in age between them and even less in terms of ability, which is why they are alternating on the bench each week.”
“They are working really hard. They are both young and very, very hungry. They both want my place. They’ve both played first-team football on loan and they want to get into the Newcastle team.”
“You know, I look at them and I see Shay and myself all over again. It’s a rivalry which could go on for years. I’m enjoying it and I’ve got to keep them at bay for as long as possible, hopefully at least for the next three years.”
“I’ll help them as much as I can, but it’s my job to keep them out and keep them frustrated. I’ve waited a long time for this and I’m not going to give it up easily.”
It’s strange but Steve has a lot of experience even though he has not played too many times for Newcastle, but it was fitting that he was made captain in the absence of Michael Owen and Nicky Butt last Wednesday, against Manchester United, an honor that was also occasionally given to Shay.
We have every confidence in Steve Harper, and as we said earlier there’s something satisfying that after such a long wait, Steve is finally getting his chance, and he’s started as safe as ever.