Shay Given reveals what's '˜alarmed' him about Newcastle this season

Shay Given says Newcastle United MUST spend in January's transfer window '“ or face a 'long, hard season'.

Friday, 8th December 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 4:09 pm
Former Newcastle United goalkeeper Shay Given.

The club, which is up for sale, is 15th in the Premier League ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Leicester City.

Rafa Benitez’s side have taken just one point from a possible 18.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Former Newcastle goalkeeper Given – who is back on Tyneside today to open a new DW Sports store at the MetroCentre – says the team’s recent form is “alarming”.

“They’re five points clear, but to have one win in 10 games is a bit alarming for everyone connected to the club,” said Given, who made 442 appearances for United during his 12 years at the club.

Manager Rafa Benitez has insisted that the ongoing takeover talks are not a distraction for his players.

“It’s easy to say it shouldn’t and it wouldn’t (be a distraction), but it has to be in the lads’ heads,” said Given.

“But there’s so much uncertainty. No-one really knows what’s going to happen. It’s all speculation at the minute, and the players will be talking about it as well in the changing room.

“There’s lots of uncertainty surrounding the club until its sold. No-one actually knows. It’s all up in the air.”

Benitez missed out on a number of summer transfer targets.

“Rafa’s quite outspoken in a sense, because he’s always talking about what he didn’t get in the summer,” said Given. “Recently he spoke about how Brighton and Huddersfield could pay better wages.

“It’s not ideal. I just think it (the team) needs strengthening, whatever way you want to look at it. There’s no getting away from that.

“It’ll be a long hard season if they don’t get any players in in January, whether Mike Ashley’s in charge or someone else.”

Given can see problems at both ends of the pitch.

“They’ve been conceding too many goals,” said the 41-year-old. “Three goals at Chelsea, but that’s a tough game. West Brom two goals, and Watford three goals. It could’ve been more.

“There are alarm bells in that sense. If you’re losing a game 1-0, you can be unlucky. The other problem is that they’re not scoring enough goals. It’s not ideal.

“My worry’s the lack of goals. If you can’t score goals, you’ll be struggling most weeks.”

Benitez claimed last month that he didn’t expect to be a big spender in the New Year whether the club is sold or not.

“In the modern market £20million might not even buy one player,” said Given.

“Back in the day, £20million would have got you four or five players. Not any more. Those days are over the way the market’s gone.

“Would a club sell a player? That’s one problem. Newcastle’s a great club, but would a player in a top-half club come to a club which might be in a (relegation) fight.”

Time is running out for the club to be taken over in time for a new owner to invest in January.

“I know if you’re buying a house, it takes months to go through,” said Given, who left Stoke City in the summer.

“This is a £300million or something business – these things don’t happen overnight. In an ideal world, you’d love it to be done today and these people come in and Rafa will get whatever he needs. Rafa’s the right guy to keep moving the club forward.”

l Shay Given will be at the new DW Sports store at the MetroCentre, Gateshead, from 12.45pm today.

The store, located in the Blue Mall, is the first of DW Sports’ new fitness concept stores, which are designed to make sports shopping more accessible and less intimidating for the ordinary fitness consumer.