City boss Roberto Mancini has a pretty nice problem on his hands come the start of the Premier League season as he has arguably two of the league’s best keepers both vying for a starting position at Eastlands. Joe Hart and Shay Given, both full internationals and fit to start the season, aren’t used to bench work, have enjoyed top form in recent campaigns and will stand for nothing less than the #1 come the start of the season.
As Hart looks to be the England #1 for the next decade given David James’ age and step down to the Championship, Given, 11 years older at 34, realizes that he only has a limited number of years left and has recently expressed his desire to play week in, week out at City – neither top keeper looking to relent the starting spot to the other.
As much as Mancini will love the healthy competition between his two brilliant players, he’ll soon have to decide who his starter will be and risk alienating the other as they languish on the bench.
Hart thrived on loan last season at Birmingham City as did Given in Manchester before suffering a season ending shoulder injury in the Spring. Both are excellent shot stoppers with quick reactions while Given obviously has more experience at club and international level due to his age. Hart is the taller keeper by 4-5 in. and seems to possess the ability to control his box as good as or better than Given can.
If Mancini awards the starting spot to Given (which would be the obvious choice largely because he’s done nothing to loose it), one option for Hart would be to go back out on loan in order to stay playing first team football each week. As far as a potential suitor for Hart’s services, I’d imagine Premier League clubs would be queuing up to secure the England international even if it’s only for a short time.
If you’re a City supporter, who would you like to see starting for your club come the opening weekend clash v Tottenham?