Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola completely understands if fans are not happy as club favourite and Premier League-winning goalkeeper Joe Hart heads for the exit door.
Out-of-favour Hart is set to be replaced by Barcelona keeper Claudio Bravo, but the England international wore the captain’s armband in his first appearance of the season as City advanced to the Champions League group stage via a 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest, sealing a 6-0 aggregate triumph.
City’s longest-serving player after arriving in 2006, Hart – second-fiddle to Willy Caballero to open the 2016-17 campaign – was the centre of attention at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, with fans chanting his name in protest as they made their feelings known to Guardiola.
Guardiola acknowledged Hart’s legendary status at the club but insisted decisions have to be made, no matter how unpopular they might be.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 24, 2016
“From the beginning I arrive here with a lot of information and I analyse what I see on the pitch and off the pitch, especially in the locker room,” said Guardiola. “All of them, I was really impressed how professional they are. Manchester City is lucky.
“I have to take a decision and I cannot deny what I feel. If the fans are not happy I can completely understand.
“I would like all my decision to make everyone happy but it is impossible.
“You have to take a decision to influence on the life of the players. We have 28 players – we can play 11.
“Seventeen players cannot play. Do you think they are happy? They are not happy with the manager.
“They deserve to play. When they are training not good, or are not good guys, for me it doesn’t matter. But that’s not the case here.”