SHAY GIVEN reckons Newcastle can replicate Manchester City’s rise to the top of English football if the Saudi takeover goes through.
The Republic of Ireland legend, 44, played his part in the City revolution after leaving St James’ Park in the early days of Sheikh Mansour’s reign 11 years ago.
He told SunSport: “I really hope it gets done. I hope this can be the time Mike Ashley moves on.
“It would be great for the Premier League if these guys came in with their financial backing to put Newcastle back challenging at the top of the league.
“It will take a few years. But with the right building blocks, the right recruitment and the right people in charge, then there will definitely be clubs looking over their shoulders.”
Given made 354 Premier League appearances for Newcastle but called it quits when ambitions nosedived under Ashley.
He completed a £6million switch in January 2009 to City, who had sky-high aspirations and with whom he won the FA Cup a year later.
The Derby coach added: “It’s possibly harder now compared to City with the financial fair play. I think they’ve tightened up since Man City have come in.
“But Newcastle have a decent team. If they add four, five, six really good players to that they could be in the top six or seven. Then if they add another six or seven players, they can get up there eventually.
“Newcastle already have the stadium. The city would be buzzing and the fans would be queueing out the gate to get in.
“Once you get one or two big names in the door, then there’s a few more thinking, ‘If he’s joining, I want to go as well’.
“It’s exciting hearing about some of the players maybe coming to the club.
“Gareth Bale got a mention the other day, Kalidou Koulibaly too.”
Given is itching to get back to work, particularly with Derby just five points off the play-offs having improved dramatically since Wayne Rooney arrived in January.
But being in lockdown is giving Given the chance to “get to know” his youngest kids Cassie, three, and Grace, four.
He has also played his part in the fight against coronavirus, setting up an organisation named CareGiven which aims to deliver as many PPE masks to frontline NHS staff and key workers during the Covid-19 crisis.
CareGiven, created with pal Rob Noble and backed by music legend Peter Gabriel, raises funds from NHS-supporting merchandise — like car stickers and flags — and pays for PPE.
Given knows all about the wonders of the NHS after undergoing emergency surgery to repair his punctured bowel following a challenge with West Ham striker Marlon Harewood in 2006.
He recalled: “The pain was excruciating. My body shut down. It was an ambulance job, straight to hospital. I woke up and saw tubes coming out of me everywhere. Luckily enough, there was a specialist who wasn’t on duty but he came in.
“The care from the doctors and nurses was first class.
“You’d think with all the Government’s resources there would be a better way of supplying these people.
“Especially the doctors and nurses who are going into the danger zone without the right equipment.
“There’s over 100 NHS workers who have died, so it’s a big worry. We’re over 10,000 masks at the minute. We’re trying to push those donations and get those figures up.”
- For more information go to caregiven.co.uk