Shay Given identifies Man City's star man this season and he has not scored a single goal
Manchester City attacking brilliance has fired them to the Premier League title in glorious fashion, yet Shay Given believes the game changer in Pep Guardiola’s side has not even crossed the half-way line this season.
City’s title challenge crumbled in the less than capable hands of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, as Guardiola’s first big decision at City backfired as he picked the wrong candidate to replace the ousted Joe Hart.
Yet Guardiola did not make the same mistake twice, as his €40m deal to sign Brazilian keeper Ederson from Benfica last summer transformed his team from pretenders into runaway champions.
A fine shot stopper who boasts a range of passing that would put most Premier League midfielders to shame, Ederson has been a shining star for City as they have crushed the opponents with embarrassing ease.
While Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Ageruo and David Silva may have stolen all the headlines in City’s title romp, Given believes their ‘sweeper keeper’ deserves a large slice of acclaim after his magnificent debut season in the Premier League.
“Ederson has been a breath of fresh air really to Man City and he is the perfect keeper for Guardiola,” begins Given. “This guy was unknown to a lot of English fans when he signed for Man City in the summer, but we all know now how good a goalkeeper he is.
“They had a few problems with Bravo last season and clearly Guardiola decided to had to do something about it in the transfer market this summer and the guy he went and got has been fantastic.
“Not just his saves but with the ball at his feet. He is probably the best in the world with the ball at his feet, he is so cool and so calm. He is nearly playing like an outfield player in goal.
“The way Guardiola plays, this is the kind of keeper he needs. In terms of retaining possession and turning defence into attack quickly, he is one of the best in the world in that department.
“The goalkeeper position has evolved and moved on in recent years and has done so again with this guy. Some of the passes he picks out are fantastic and that has been as important to City this season as keeping the ball out.
“He is also a very positive keeper. He is committed when he comes off his line for corners and crosses and that confidence is good for the defenders around him.
“City have had a lot of stand-out players this season, but Ederson has been a big part of their improvement from last season.
“He’s probably not been tested as much as you would expect over the course of this season as City have been so dominant, but he adds composure and I’ve been very impressed with his all-round game.”
City’s comprehensive dominance in most of their games this season has allowed Ederson’s sumptuous passing ability has been as notable as his shot stopping, with Given suggesting the balance in Guardiola’s team has been too much for the rest to handle.
“City had a great start to last season when everything was flowing and it looked like they was going to cruise to the title, but then it went wrong and I think Guardiola looked at the reasons for that and addressed it,” he added.
“His key signings last summer were Ederson and Kyle Walker and they have made a massive difference because they fit perfectly into what he wants to do defensively and from an attacking perspective.
“Fair play to him because he was not used to finishing third in the league, as he did last season, but he dusted himself down and put it right and has done that in a big way.
“The pressure was on him to deliver this year, but he will have thrived on that. The top managers get up every day and enjoy the challenge he has on his hands at City and he deserves all the praise coming his way.”
Shay Given is appearing alongside fellow Ireland legends Paul McGrath and John Aldridge at an evening celebrating the golden era of Irish soccer at Dublin's Bord Gáis theatre. Tickets are still available.