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A Heartfelt Apology To Shay Given From An Aston Villa Cynic

The pink-on-blue is really starting to grow on me.
The pink-on-blue is really starting to grow on me.

The problem with writing down all my thoughts on Aston Villa is that they're kept for posterity -- and if I'm wrong about something, those words can be thrown back in my face. But I've never been more happy to be wrong than right now, having watched Shay Given against Fulham yesterday. My usual cynical self was rather dismissive when Aston Villa signed the goalkeeper, but now, I'm ready to kiss his keeper gloves.

In this week's Friday Feedback, both Aaron and I said we thought Charles N'Zogbia would be a more valuable signing than Given. Having seen Blazing Roaches in action for during the first half yesterday, I still stand by that statement. But it was premised on the idea that keepers have less of an impact on the game than outfield players. I'm not sure anyone who saw the Fulham match yesterday would think that Given's presence had little significance.

If it weren't for our new keeper, there would have certainly been a goal by Fulham, possibly more. He saved a shot by Andy Johnson, pushed away one from Bobby Zamora before sliding in to stop another, and probably more that aren't on the highlights package. It sure felt like more, standing in the away end at Craven Cottage, heart in mouth. While our central defense was fairly solid yesterday, there's still a definite weakness on the right, in the form of Luke Young. Given made up for that, thank goodness. 

There are still areas in our squad that need strengthening. There are choices to be made that might not make Alex McLeish more popular. But at least I can say that the Villa can rest easy on the goalkeeping front.