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Shay Given Almost A Given For Aston Villa

Aston Villa might finally be signing their first player since Alex McLeish took over as manager -- apparently they're taking things slowly, making sure the relationship can develop before jumping in with a commitment. But turns out Shay Given is slightly on the desperate side, and is willing to take a £20k a week pay cut to get out of Manchester City. The deal will be for around £3.5m. Which is -- coincidentally I am sure -- about the amount that Villa would like to see Liverpool add to their bid for Stewart Downing.

So that's where the Villa are these days: willing to sell their two best players while struggling to replace their first choice keeper. It's hard to feel optimistic at the moment, but McLeish has some words of comfort. He says that Brad Guzan will be allowed to challenge for a first team spot! Possibly because he glows!

In other words, fear nothing, Villa fans. AML has a plan in place if the Given deal falls through. He likely has a plan for when Downing walks away. He's probably even found a way to make claret not clash with his hair. Breath easily, sleep soundly, we're all in good hands, here.

Oh, yes, pre-season starts today. Here we go.