Shay Given is one of Newcastle’s modern greats.
The best goalkeeper most of us have ever seen play at St James Park.
However, he has some pretty strange ideas as to what is getting in the way of Newcastle winning derby games.
Talking ahead of Sunday, Shay Given seems to think that employing foreign players is a major hurdle that is at times impossible to overcome.
Well Shay, I’m afraid it isn’t foreign players who are a problem, it is rubbish players that get you beat.
In the last derby match at St James Park, Newcastle fielded Jak Alnwick, Paul Dummett, Steven Taylor, Jack Colback and Sammy Ameobi.
Surely with five English players and Geordies/local lads at that(!), Newcastle should have had a walkover.
Sadly it was yet another defeat.
You need players with character, wherever they are from.
When Nikos Dabizas scored down at their place, he looked pretty pleased to me!
Same with Yohan Cabaye scoring down there, or going back to the likes of David Ginola and winning the last ever derby at Roker Park.
“My only concern is that there are a lot of foreign players at Newcastle now.
“Sometimes you question whether they know what it means to play in such a big game as this, what it means to the fans, what it means for them going back to work on the Monday morning?
“You would like to think Benitez can get that message across.
“It’s a tense occasion. It’s huge for the fans, wanting to win this game more than any other game but if you asked any Sunderland fan or Newcastle fan this week ‘would you take a loss at the weekend and stay up’, they would probably do that.
“It’s definitely a six-pointer, they’re both in the relegation fight and it’s going to be so close who stays up.
“It looks like Aston Villa have gone, and that it’s between Norwich, Newcastle and Sunderland (two from three to join them) so it looks as if one of the two big ones from the north-east are going to go down. This game at the weekend is monumental.
“It’s not just a normal game, it’s not just another Premier League game, it’s a very special occasion. You can cut the tension with a knife beforehand.
“It’s bleak reading when you see the Premier League table relegation fight at the bottom and they’re so far adrift.
“Randy Lerner invested I think £50m in the summer, that’s a huge investment. The biggest problem is the players they brought in don’t seem to be up to the standard of the Premier League.
“They’re sometimes good players in the French leagues or the Dutch leagues but it’s a big step up to the Premier League and personally I felt they should have signed more Premier League experienced players in the summer – who know the league and know what it takes to stay in the division.”