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Highlights on Off The Ball

Managing Shearer & Bellamy captured Bobby Robson's genius | Shay Given

Former Newcastle United 'keeper Shay Given recalled with Off The Ball what set managers like Ke...

Managing Shearer & Bellamy cap...

Managing Shearer & Bellamy captured Bobby Robson's genius | Shay Given

Former Newcastle United 'keeper Shay Given recalled with Off The Ball what set managers like Kenny Dalglish and Bobby Robson apart. 

It was during Bobby Robson's tenure in charge of Newcastle United that Shay Given enjoyed what may go down as the most memorable few seasons of an illustrious career at the top level.

At the moment of Robson's arrival in 1999, the Irish 'keeper was in a fight with Steve Harper for a firm hold of the #1 jersey.

By the time of the manager's departure in 2004, however, Given had established himself as an ever-present starter in the Newcastle goal as the club traveled from Tyneside to the Champions League.

Yet, speaking at OTB Sports' Cadbury FC remote roadshow, Given recalled how it had been another icon of English football that he owed his place at Newcastle United to in the first place.

"Kenny Dalglish brought me to Blackburn at 18," he explained, the former Liverpool player and manager a legend of Rovers as he delivered them Premier League success in 1994/95.

"We had a pre-season friendly where I had had to have my medical, sign my contract and all that during the day, and that night we had the game.

"I think we lost 3-2 and two of the goals were my fault. First person I met in the corridor of the training ground the next morning was Kenny. 'Good job you signed that contract yesterday'.

"He was just winding me up. He told me though never to get too down and never go high away on yourself."

After Dalglish's tenure with Blackburn Rovers concluded in 1995, he would move on to take charge at Newcastle in 1997.

"Kenny brought me to Newcastle United then," explained Given. "He gave me the #1 jersey and he put his trust in me. That takes a lot of courage to give a young guy that shirt and I owe a lot to Kenny."

Bobby Robson

Although the Scot's spell with the club would be short-lived, it was the start of a much longer journey for Given. After Dalglish came the former England and Barcelona boss Bobby Robson, and with that an upturn in the club's fortunes.

One of Manchester United's main challengers on the domestic front under Kevin Keegan in the 1990s, Robson did not scale those heights with Newcastle. Nevertheless, after not so much as a top-1o finish since 1997, he did guide the club back into the Premier League's continental places.

A manager of immense experience and success, Given simply recounts a man who knew how to get the best out of those put in front of him.

"One of the things that sticks out most with Bobby was his man-management skills," recalled Given. "A brilliant motivator, he could just get the best out of you.

"We all talk about tactics, analysing the opposition and different things at the elite level, but I think a lot of it is to do with man-management."

In his best season with the club (2002/03), Newcastle United finished third in the Premier League ahead of the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool.

Boasting the likes of Given, Gary Speed, Jermaine Jenas, Kieron Dyer, Craig Bellamy and Alan Shearer, it was a team packed with talent, and egos.

"For a time there we had Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy up front and maybe they didn't quite see eye-to-eye all the time," explained Given of a stumbling block that Robson easily scaled.

"You could see Bobby telling the lads different things about the other. 'Alan, don't worry about him, he's just a little mouthpiece shouting off.' He'd go over to Bellamy then. 'Don't mind him, son, he's just getting old and you're doing all of his running.'

"Come Saturday then, they were brilliant together."

You can watch Shay Given recall his memories of playing for Newcastle United in full here

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Bobby Robson Newcastle United Premier League Republic Of Ireland Shay Given