Given eyes title triumph next season


Shay Given is backing Newcastle to mount a serious challenge for the Premiership title next season after seeing their dreams ripped apart by Manchester United.

Newcastle's 6-2 demolition of Bobby Robson's men at St James' Park on Saturday knocked the final nail into the Magpies' championship coffin.

However, while acknowledging that Robson's young guns still have much to learn as they grow together as a team, Given is confident that they can bounce back to secure a Champions League berth, and then push United and Arsenal all the way next term.

"I do think the title is beyond us this season, but hopefully we can give it a real good go next year," he said. "We didn't start that well this season. Had we had a bit better start, who knows?

"But I do think if we can keep all our key players fit next season, I think we can give it a real blast.

"It's important that we get back into the Champions League this year as well. It's the place you want to be, and it means you can go out and spend £9 million on people like Jonathan Woodgate.

Newcastle have five games in which to cement their place in the top three, starting at Fulham on Saturday when they will be desperate to bounce back from successive league defeats by Everton and United.

And while they may have to cope at Loftus Road without Laurent Robert, who suffered suspected medial ligament damage during Saturday's game, they should have skipper Alan Shearer and England international Jermaine Jenas available despite both picking up injuries against Sir Alex Ferguson's side.