Given hits out after Barry taunts

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The Independent Online

Manchester City 'keeper Shay Given has hit out at the reaction of the Aston Villa fans towards Gareth Barry on his first return to the midlands club.

Barry made 440 appearances for Villa in 11 years before making the £12 million switch to Eastlands during the summer with just one year remaining of his contract.

But the England midfielder was booed from the minute he stepped off the team coach until the final whistle by sections of Villa supporters as City fought back to earn a 1-1 draw.

It was in stark contrast to the applause that City fans showed towards their former skipper Richard Dunne who chose not to celebrate after giving Villa a first half lead which was cancelled out by Craig Bellamy's goal.

Given said: "I was a little bit surprised by the reaction to Gareth. He deserves a lot of credit for what he has done for Villa.

"It is a bit harsh on him getting booed and the reception he got.

"He was at Villa for so many years and did great service, got them £12 million after Villa hardly paid a penny for him as well, so I thought it was a bit unfair.

"It was a bit strange. I suppose some fans think one thing and others think something else.

"But Gareth has come to us and wants to further his career and hopefully win trophies and I think the fans should respect what he has done for the club and move on.

"I am sure there will be a majority of Villa fans who will be thankful as well for the service he gave to the club but the majority at the game were pretty much the opposite."

Given added: "Fans up and down the country are perhaps a bit jealous of Man City in the sense that they have new owners and what they can bring to the club.

"But they should respect Gareth for what he did beforehand."

Given is happy with City's start to the season and believes the game at Villa shows how much they are progressing as a team.

He said: "We need to get up there in the top half of the table and we have had a very decent start to the season.

"Maybe last season we would have struggled with a game like the one at Villa, who are a strong team, and we showed a lot of spirit and character to come back into the game.

"We didn't start the game very well but we responded in the second half and during that period, if anyone was going to win it, I thought it was ourselves."

Villa boss Martin O'Neill hailed the impact made by Dunne and his other new defensive signings, James Collins and Stephen Warnock, since arriving at the club.

He said: "The three players that have come in have been excellent. Warnock is a real quality player. I thought Dunne was magnificent against City.

"He was given man of the match by our fans and is a great character. I am delighted he is at the club. He had nine great years at Man City and he is a very fine player.

"But his partner alongside him (Collins) has also been fantastic.

"Collins is a real player. He can head it and competes but he also has composure on the ball and that is perhaps something in the past we haven't had.

"It is nice to be able to see we can attempt to take the sting out of the game."

O'Neill is convinced Mark Hughes' side will be genuine contenders for a top four spot in the Barclays Premier League this season.

He said: "Manchester City are a really good side and during the course of the season they will go onto prove that. They will threaten the top four.

"They have strength in depth, are capable of pushing on, and they are a dangerous side. They can cause you problems and create openings."

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