Thursday 22 March 2018

Given 'torn' over Eastlands fate after Mancini opts for Hart again

Mark Ogden

ROBERTO MANCINI has decided against starting Shay Given in tonight's Europa League clash against Timisoara, with the Irish stopper understood to be torn over leaving Manchester City.

The Italian had been ready to play the former Newcastle 'keeper tonight but, with the 34-year-old facing a dilemma on whether to stay, Mancini has opted instead to continue with Joe Hart in goal.

Fulham are ready to move for Given once Mark Schwarzer leaves the club for Arsenal, while Celtic are also monitoring his situation. Yet despite the prospect of a lengthy spell on the bench as understudy to Hart, Given has yet to resolve his own thoughts on his future.

A source close to Given said: "Shay is confused and torn over what to do. He only joined City 18 months ago and wanted to win things after 10 years at Newcastle.

"But he just wants to play and he doesn't see Mancini leaving Hart out now, even if he makes a mistake. He'll want to stand by his man.

"Shay is watching the situation with the goalkeepers at Arsenal at Fulham. A loan move might be something he'd consider but he's finding it really difficult to know what to do.

"The last thing he wants to do is risk his place in the Ireland team as he knows they have a great chance of qualifying for Euro 2012."

Hart, the England goalkeeper, will be part of a strong team fielded by Mancini in Romania, although full-back Aleksandar Kolarov will not play after being ruled out for six weeks with an ankle injury.

Mancini has also defended City against Alex Ferguson's accusations of "kamikaze spending" by insisting the club is merely following a path laid down by Manchester United.

Mancini claimed that his Abu Dhabi-funded summer recruitment drive has now concluded -- with a staggering £126m total -- following James Milner's £24m transfer from Aston Villa.

Mancini's priority over the final 12 days of the transfer window will be to address the City futures of the likes of Robinho and Given.

Yet City's mammoth spending spree, which has seen the glittering names of David Silva, Yaya Toure and Mario Balotelli sign for the club this summer, has been viewed by many within the game as distorting the market and inflating player valuations to nonsensical levels.

Ferguson did not openly direct his comments directly at City but, kamikaze or not, Mancini claims that United have also done their share of big spending in recent years.

"It is not important for me (what Ferguson says). I respect his opinion, but Manchester United, like Manchester City, have spent a lot of money in the past," Mancini said.

"I think that all the other teams have spent a lot of money in the past. I don't mean 15 years ago, but in the last one, two or three years.

"It is normal that when you want to buy a good player you have to spend money. This is the market.

"I have bought six players and, for now, I think we have finished in the market. I am very happy to have James (Milner) with us and everyone knows we have admired him for some time. He is a good player, one who can play in every position and we need that."

Milner, for his part, has immediately set his sights on winning the Premier League title with his new employers.

"(Mancini) said to me: 'Be ready to win the Premier League,' and that's my ultimate aim -- that's what I want to do and why I'm here," he said.

Mancini -- who at least helped trim the Eastlands wage bill by off-loading Stephen Ireland as an £8m makeweight in the Milner deal -- is likely to recoup further funds for owner Sheikh Mansour before the August 31 transfer deadline.

Felipe Caicedo has departed for West Ham, while Schalke, Besiktas and Fenerbahce are plotting moves for Robinho, who remains, at £32.5m, British football's most expensive signing. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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