Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Deserve Flak ( Given

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Deserve Flak ( Given

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

But we won't hide from criticism

Shay Given has insisted that Newcastle's players will not hide from the mounting criticism of a troubled campaign and conceded that under-performing United deserve the ceaseless flak which is currently being aimed their way, writes Paul Gilder.

The unhappy Irishman pointed the finger at a dreadful defensive record and admitted that the Magpies' chief weakness has been identified and exploited by their top-flight opponents with disastrous consequences in recent weeks.

Newcastle's frailties were once again underlined in a 2-2 draw with Blackburn on Boxing Day and, as Arsenal prepare to head to Tyneside tomorrow evening, Graeme Souness' side risk embarrassment unless major improvements are made.

United have already conceded 37 Premiership goals this term ( just three short of last season's final league tally ( and Given is hoping that the opening of the January transfer window will finally afford him the kind of defensive protection he believes he is entitled to.

"We're getting criticism now and rightly so," explained one of the most-coveted keepers in the domestic game, whose growing frustration hasn't gone unnoticed by Newcastle's top-flight rivals. "The Press and the fans aren't happy and they have every right to feel that way.

"We have not been doing well enough this season ( or towards the end of last year's campaign. I have to say that we deserve all the stick we're getting. You have just got to look at the league table to realise that we're not doing the business.

"When you are doing well, you take the credit. We're doing badly now and we need broad shoulders. It is the players who need to improve."

Souness has endured a tempestuous start to his reign and a manager who was appointed shortly after the transfer deadline is hoping the forthcoming window will enable him to instigate a revival. But it seems that the recruitment of Jean-Alain Boumsong alone will be insufficient to plug the second-worst defence in Premiership football.

"Some of the criticism the manager has received has been harsh as this isn't his team, but the results haven't gone well so I suppose he expects it," said Given. …

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