Shay Given finds himself in an exceptionally difficult position. With very little chance of playing for the Aston Villa first team again he failed to secure a move during the transfer window, leaving his long and impressive career in serious danger of fizzling out. And at 37, time is not on his side.
So where did it all go wrong? Given seemed to still have the fitness and the shot-stopping ability to continue playing at the highest level for a few more years, after being first choice for most of his career, including at Villa in 2011-12 under Alex McLeish. He also won 125 caps for the Republic of Ireland.
But after a slightly below-par performance at Euro 2012, by his standards, his form continued to drop, and that was carried into last season’s opening two league fixtures. During the latter, against Everton, his mistakes led to two of the Toffees’ goals at they won 3-1. And already new boss Paul Lambert’s patience had gone. Given was duly replaced by Brad Guzan.
Since then Guzan has performed consistently well, keeping Given out of the team. At the end of last season, the Irishman was told that he was free to talk to other clubs, but his time on the sidelines has clearly affected his standing, while his high wages have hardly enticed any potential buyers.
Despite being linked with moves to Liverpool and Doncaster Rovers over the summer, nothing appeared really forthcoming, and Given must have endured considerable amounts of frustration in his ultimately unsuccessful attempts to make it through the exit door. This must have intensified even more after Darren Bent and Stephen Ireland both made loan moves.
There are still two options available to Given, although both look fairly unlikely to happen. A loan move to a Championship club is a possibility, although wages again act as a barrier, while he could also try to have his contract mutually terminated, but it would be a shock if Villa decide to accept such an offer.
Given’s plight is, in some ways, hard to comprehend. For a goalkeeper who has played in the Champions League, and played in a major international tournament just over a year ago, he has had a huge comedown, one that leaves his career under severe threat. It is the harsh reality for someone of such undoubted ability.
Some months after taking the Aston Villa manager’s job, Lambert appeared to create his new vision for the club. After starting Given along with the likes of Bent, he quickly cast them away in favour of developing some of the younger players in his squad, and making them first-team regulars. To Lambert’s credit, his policy has paid off.
But Given will not take any consolation from Guzan’s form. Both he and Villa must have expected him to leave during the transfer window. For whatever reason though, he remains, and the passing of the transfer deadline made an already tough situation a very desperate one.
See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG