In my Junior Sophister year at College there was a first-come, first-served morning at the start of term when you could enroll for the classes of your choice. I'd been really looking forward to studying James Joyce further and had every intention of nabbing one of the first chairs in the seminar. Sadly, the night before was a Tuesday and Tuesday's were notoriously busy, socially speaking, around Dublin. Wednesdays were also rather hectic, as was Thursday through Monday. We liked a drink, okay? What of it?
In any event, I may have imbibed a few sherbets too many and arrived back to my squalid flat at five in the morning with at least two new vagrant best friends. By the time a pallid, nauseous and bedraggled manifestation of me got to Trinity it was mid-afternoon and all but the runts of the academic litter had been taken. I found myself 'choosing' The Writer As Critic and convincing myself, between bouts of dry-retching, that it could actually be quite a good course and that maybe I'd had the right strategy. I hadn't, and neither do Liverpool Football Club's recruitment nabobs. The last minute is no time to make important decisions -- I'm side-eyeing you, Damien Comolli, and that £35m that was burning a hole in your pocket.
This morning we wake to the news that Liverpool are being linked with Shay Given, latterly of Aston Villa and notably of Newcastle, Manchester City and Republic of Ireland fame. After a summer in which a veritable beauty parade of talent has marched past L4 and hopped in a cab to London or Dortmund, fans could be excused for a massive dose of skepticism about how our overlords are managing
their our business. Have they been on the sauce like I was back in the day? Have they slept their way through the optimum part of the window and have they, like the young and hopelessly hungover version of your correspondent, lurched into an approximation of life far, far to late, only to be left with the type of options one would file under Less Than Inspiring?
Shay Given is one of the highest earners at Villa Park and is in a powerful position with three years left on the contract he signed following his transfer from Manchester City in 2011, but with American, Brad Guzan, currently the first choice for Paul Lambert, the Irishman has been told he can leave. Given was, despite some unfair criticism, one of the Premier league's best during his Newcastle United days, but he has been less and less impressive in recent campaigns and the idea of a move for Given seems to make little sense on a number of levels.
Brad Jones has never been one to inspire tremendous confidence, but the faithful reserve has been a solid citizen and he will be justifiably irked to read stories about his place as back-up being taken by an older and hardly in-form Given. The current Villa man has struggled with injury and consistency in recent months and will not be the kind of signing that will necessitate the erection of a marquee or excite fans desperate for a boost ahead of the visit of Manchester United on Sunday.
Of course, Given himself may balk at the idea of moving from being Brad Guzan's back-up to becoming support to Simon Mignolet. He is a proud man, with a wonderful international record and a fine chance of getting first-team football elsewhere. Indeed, Doncaster Rovers in the Championship were one club reportedly anxious to acquire the Donegal man's services, on-loan. There would be many others, despite the naysayers protestations to the contrary.
For this scrivener, the move for Given would be harsh on Jones but understandable if it were in the context of other arrivals. As it stands, with no exciting and shiny new stars to fire the imaginations of Reds fans, one can almost envisage the tumbleweed blowing through Ian Ayre's office as he announces the capture of the thirty seven year old Irish veteran.As I said in yesterday's piece, this will be a very trying and emotionally exhausting few days so hold each other close, people. In the spirit of giving you something else to focus on, no matter how disturbing, have a look at this eyeball-searingly awful cartoon about Chelsea's new old boss. SPECIAL ONES...GO!