Ashley stays on but Given may give up on Toon

Frustrated goalkeeper's loyalty may be exhausted as woes show no sign of ending

Mike Ashley took Newcastle United off the market yesterday morning but the club may have to deal with another sale because Shay Given's future at St James' Park is uncertain. Arsenal have again been linked with the 32-year-old goalkeeper – described as "world class" by Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard yesterday – but there is also sustained interest from Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.

Transfer speculation at City has centred on Juventus' Gianluigi Buffon and Real Madrid's Iker Casillas but it is Given whom Mark Hughes wants. Newcastle will demand a high price – possibly as much as £5m for a player who joined for £1.5m from Blackburn Rover 11 and a half years ago – but supporters at St James' would wish Given well if he chooses to depart. They have appreciated his loyalty.

Yesterday was Given's 459th appearance for Newcastle. He is third in the club's all-time list of appearances. But despite the glowing praise earned from Gerrard, an exposed Given conceded five goals as the Newcastle defence failed at the basics and at full-time Given ran off, clearly annoyed. He is dedicated to Newcastle, but has been dismayed at this season's developments and the departure of Kevin Keegan. With Newcastle not playing at home until January 10th there is an outside chance that this was Given's last Newcastle game there.

"The only disappointment we had at half-time was not being three or four up by then," Gerrard said of Liverpool's 5-1 victory, "but Newcastle have a world-class keeper. He made some fantastic stops. Credit to Shay."

Given's manager, Joe Kinnear, also praised the Irishman. "If there's one positive," Kinnear said, "he's proved he's the best goalkeeper in the League by a mile."

Given was part of a Newcastle starting XI bought by six different managers. A seventh, Kinnear, picked it and said afterwards that while Ashley's statement about his decision to stay was welcome, "the next statement will be the important one. We have to look to the future and getting more players in is a must – at least four."

Before Christmas Kinnear said that he had received approval from Ashley to fund £12m worth of January transfers; yesterday he said he has no assurances from Ashley regarding January.

That type of mixed message confuses supporters. They awoke to Ashley's announcement yesterday morning. It was increasingly clearAshley would be forced to stay due to the absence of takers at his stated price, but while a degree of stability returned, fans know not whether to cheer or sneer.

"I have withdrawn Newcastle United from the market," Ashley said in the match programme, "and for me 2009 will be the year in which we drive the club forward together." He said he has been unable to find "worthy custodians" for "such a fine football club" and added: "Nobody would pretend the last few months have not been difficult for all of us connected with Newcastle United following Kevin Keegan's departure in September."

Ashley denied "celebrating" Keegan's exit in a New York bar, but he saluted Kinnear's impact and even suggested "a flutter on us reaching that top six?" His notes were written prior to the Boxing Day defeat at Wigan and yesterday's humiliation.

Ashley appeared for neither game and there is unlikely to be dancing in the streets of Tyneside until there is evidence of renewed commitment via incoming transfers. Kinnear called his squad "threadbare" and said the director of recruitment, Dennis Wise, was "doing the investigations"on the players Kinnear wants. Wise's presence remains an issue at St James' but apparently not for Ashley and Kinnear.

Newcastle United: A reign of pain

* May 2007 Mike Ashley buys 41.6 per cent stake in Newcastle for £55.34m. Chairman Freddy Shepherd then sells his 28 per cent share to Ashley.

* July Chris Mort appointed chairman.

* January 2008 Sam Allardyce sacked, replaced by Kevin Keegan.

* August Ashley shown downing a pint during 3-0 defeat at Arsenal.

* September Keegan resigns as manager after days of speculation. Supporters stage mass demonstration. Ashley announces the club is for sale. Joe Kinnear named interim manager.

* November Kinnear named manager until end of the season.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower