Comment: England and Manchester City goalkeeping spots up for grabs as Joe Hart’s form hits new lows

Comment by Alex Lanigan

When Joe Hart displaced Shay Given as the man of choice between the Manchester City sticks a collective sigh of relief echoed through the halls of the Football Association.

After the retirement of David Seaman the national team went through a goalkeeping crisis akin to Manchester United’s loss of Peter Schmeichel.

While David James and Paul Robinson put together consistent spells in goal neither managed to genuinely command the trust and respect of the nation.

Hart’s arrival on the scene however, somehow felt different.

Here was a young and authoritative goalkeeper that had claimed the number one spot in a team that was destined for glory.

While the likes of Scott Carson, Ben Foster, Chris Kirkland, and Rob Green all floundered when presented with an international opportunity Hart remained cool and collected.

However, three Golden Glove awards later and the form of the Manchester City man is on rapid decline.

A lack of competition at both club and international level has been cited by many as the catalyst for Hart’s mammoth dip in form.

His position for both club and country has rarely been threatened; but, as his errors mount up, his position becomes more and more insecure.

Hart’s new boss Manuel Pellegrini has leapt to the defence of his goalkeeper on several occasions this season however, after City sunk to a 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich the first cracks in the Chilean’s confidence began to show.

The ever-stoic Pellegrini admitted that he was ‘worried’ about the mistakes his number one was making.

While Pellegrini has the advantage of a whole season to determine whether Hart is his man, England manager Roy Hodgson cannot be afforded the same luxury.

The Three Lions face Montenegro and Poland at the end of the month with their place at the World Cup still not secure and Hodgson will have to decide whether to stick by his goalkeeper or put his trust in inexperienced backups.

Fraser Forster has impressed with his performances for Celtic in the Champions League but is uncapped by England and it is highly unlikely Hodgson, a naturally cautious manager, will risk him in such vital matches.

England coach Gary Neville, however did criticise Hart’s involvement in the goals on Wednesday night.

“For the first goal he has got to do better there,” he said

“Joe Hart was beaten at his near post. It just goes through the hand. It’s not the start Manchester City wanted or the goalkeeper.

“And for the third goal you have to say Joe’s got to do better again at the near post. That’s twice he’s been beaten there tonight. He’ll be disappointed again,” said Neville.   

Hart has made high profile errors on numerous occasions dating back to last season when his errors began costing Manchester City games.

That trend has continued into this year. He was at fault for goals at Cardiff and Aston Villa, in fixtures Manchester City ended up losing.

On Wednesday night the spotlight got a bit brighter on the England goalkeeper after failing to keep out a long-range effort by Franck Ribery, and then being beaten again at his near post by Arjen Robben.

Costel Pantilimon stated his desire to get regular first team football at Manchester City before the FA Cup final last season and he may get his chance in the upcoming weeks should Hart’s form not improve. 

Image courtesy of ITV Sport via YouTube, with thanks

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Articles