Given: It's good to feel wanted

14 August 2011 07:34
Shay Given celebrated his first Premier League game for almost 16 months with a clean sheet before declaring: "It's nice to feel wanted again."

Given put his Manchester City nightmare behind him with a stellar debut for Aston Villa in their otherwise disappointing goalless draw at Fulham on the opening day of the season.

The Republic of Ireland goalkeeper was robbed of a year of his Premier League career after being consigned to the bench for virtually the whole of last term.

Despite his desire to leave City after being deposed as number one by Joe Hart, Roberto Mancini refused to sell until Villa came calling this summer.

And if he had a point to prove at Craven Cottage, Given certainly succeeded, rescuing a point with more than one crucial save.

"Last year was frustrating - it's probably well-documented and the word's overused at this stage," said Given, who at £3.5million, could prove the bargain of the season.

"But it's nice to be back and nice to feel wanted again and feel part of the team and be playing in front of big crowds again."

He added: "In the run-up to the game, there was the excitement of the Premier League starting again and, for me personally, knowing I was going to be playing was pretty special.

"So it's great to be back and it's nice to start with a clean sheet with my new team."

So long had it been since Given had played in the Premier League, he might have forgotten his last appearance.

But he remembered it to the month, probably because it was a match in which he dislocated his shoulder, forcing him to miss the rest of the season.

He made just four club appearances after that - in cup competitions - compared to 11 for his country, before Saturday.

Given, now 35, said: "I left home at 16, and even before I left home, I'd been playing football all my life.

"I was pretty regular at most clubs I'd been at, so it was a bit strange last year.

"It's great to be at Villa and feel part of the group."

The former Newcastle star conceded he made a step down after moving from Champions League City to the midlanders, who were battling relegation last term.

"You're not going to be able to compete with Man City with the amount of money they're spending on players, and they will continue to spend in the future," he said. "It's a different budget here. It's unrealistic saying we're going to compete with them.

"But there's a togetherness in the squad and hopefully we can get a couple more players before the window closes, be it loanees or whatever, and I think it'll help us to have a good season."

Unlike Given, Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer was a virtual spectator on Saturday, not having a serious save to make all afternoon.

The Australian certainly was not expecting such an easy ride from £18million England striker Darren Bent, who had a goal rightly ruled out for offside but was otherwise anonymous.

"You know how dangerous he is," Schwarzer said. "He's a prolific goalscorer and we were well aware, obviously, of his talent and his capabilities.

"Defensively, the boys did very, very well and combated him very, very well."

The result was a minor setback for new Fulham boss Martin Jol following the club's successful run to the Europa League play-off round.

Schwarzer compared the Dutchman to Roy Hodgson, who led the Cottagers all the way to the 2010 final.

"I know that the club have really enjoyed the success that we had under Roy Hodgson previously," said Schwarzer, who hoped the similarities proved a good omen ahead of Thursday's first leg against Dnipro.

"Let's not jinx ourselves.

"We're not going to take anything for granted and we know difficult the games are going to be."

Source: Team_Talk