Wednesday 22 November 2017

McLeish relief at Given heroics

Ben Rumsby

Alex McLeish admitted Shay Given had got him and Aston Villa off the hook with a point-saving debut at Fulham.

McLeish was not exactly welcomed with open arms at Villa Park following his controversial summer defection from Birmingham and defeat in his first competitive match in charge would have provided ammunition to his critics.

The Republic of Ireland goalkeeper made several saves in what was otherwise a pretty dire goalless draw.

"The bottom line is, when there was all the furore, I always said it's about results," said McLeish. "We started the league with a very good away point."

He added of Given, who Villa rescued from his Manchester City nightmare last month: "His experience tells him when to go into the right positions.

"You might have seen other goalies diving for one of the two that came point-blank at him, but that's the experience of a great goalkeeper."

However, McLeish denied Given was solely responsible for yesterday's draw.

"I don't think it's fair to say that," the manager said. "It's a team game and the whole team contributed."

In fairness, Villa's defence also stood up pretty well to a Martin Jol side which was battle-hardened following their run to the Europa League play-off round.

Villa supporters, though, would have left ambivalent about what they saw as Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer didn't have a serious shot to save -- despite McLeish's claim that it was a good result.

Sunday Indo Sport

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