Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Irish eyes aren't smiling

If there's one gripe that most of us have about our ever-trusty custodian Shay Given, it's that he's not vocal enough with those in front of him. Well, no more.

"If you looked at the Sunday league football yesterday around Newcastle you wouldn't even see the kind of goals we gave away against Fulham. We've given one of the best players in the Premiership in terms of heading the ball [Fulham's Brian McBride] the total freedom of the six-yard box. It just isn't acceptable. They didn't even carve us open; we handed them the goals on a plate. It's amazing but we have to talk about it privately and get it sorted out within the camp".

Yes Shay, "talk about it privately and get it sorted out within the camp" now that you've publicly pointed the finger at our old friend Titus Bramble. But, to be fair, Bramble deserved it.

Strangely, just as Given seems to be rueing his insane decision to commit himself to many more games behind our back four, his back-up Steve Harper has opted to sign a two year contract extension tying him to the club until 2009. I can only assume he's basing his decision on the way Roeder got the defence playing at the back end of last season. Well, either that or Given finally reaching the end of his tether, sticking two fingers up to Bramble, Carr, Babayaro etc and riding off into the sunset...

In other news, Roeder has asked us to be patient with Obafemi Martins, who has looked less than impressive in his first two appearances in the famous number nine shirt. The manager's got a point - Martins is only just returning to full fitness after flu, and in any case no player should be judged on the evidence of less than two matches.

Also on the striking front, Michael Owen has been talking about getting back to his peak and the latest operation enabling him to extend his playing career - one step at a time, eh, Mickey? - and on-loan striker Guiseppe Rossi has hinted at the possibility of staying on Tyneside beyond January. I can't see Fergie consenting to that, and Rossi has to impress first, but it might happen if the Devilsox invest in a new striker in the next transfer window.

Meanwhile, recent comments from Roeder underline the fact that he's currently facing some serious man-management issues. Following the deadline day fiasco, James Milner was probably feeling in need of some TLC - being dropped from Saturday's squad probably wasn't what he had in mind. But there is some reassurance in what Roeder has said in advance of tomorrow's match in Estonia: "James will be involved in Tallinn and will play a significant part, and I am sure he will give us something down the right". Of course, the fact that he will only be claiming a place in the side because Nobby Solano has a hamstring strain is unlikely to make him feel much better.

And finally, one of our old boys continues to show sparkling form in the Championship. Having got Cardiff's consolation goal in a 2-1 defeat at Preston on Saturday, Michael Chopra scored twice and created another at Home Park last night. Unfortunately for him, second-half defensive hari-kari (including two own goals) saw Plymouth fight back for an improbable 3-3 draw, with Birmingham's win over QPR knocking the Bluebirds off their perch at the top of the table.


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