Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart says his team-mates cannot hide behind the injury absence of captain Vincent Kompany or any other excuses after they slumped to a 2-0 loss at Stoke City.
Marko Arnautovic gave the hosts a deserved two-goal lead after 15 minutes and England goalkeeper Hart, making his return to action following a hamstring strain, was called upon regularly thereafter to help keep the margin of defeat down at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
City have conceded just once in the eight matches that Kompany has started at centre-back in the Premier League this season – Cameron Jerome’s goal for Norwich City in October, coming as a direct result of a Hart mistake – but they have been porous without the Belgium skipper.
A fourth league loss for Manuel Pellegrini’s title hopefuls this term followed 4-1 defeats to Tottenham and Liverpool and a 2-1 reverse at home to West Ham, all matches that Kompany was prevented from playing in due to his nagging calf complaint.
“Vincent Kompany is a massively important part of our squad but we have a good squad here,” said Hart, as quoted by BBC Sport.
“After a 2-0 loss it is easy to say, but we will stick together as a squad. Conditions were tough but that’s English football.
“Nobody was able to walk off the pitch with an excuse, both teams played on it and Stoke deserved to beat us. We can’t accept how we played.”
City ended the game with 10 men after midfielder Fernando suffered a hamstring injury to curtail a wretched individual showing.
Pellegrini had Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero unavailable at the Britannia Stadium – along with suspended defender Eliaquim Mangala – but again, Hart did not cite that fact as a reason behind the loss.
“It was a disappointing start and we could not recover from it,” he added. “We didn’t play well.
“A few of the lads are feeling it from the games we are playing but that is not an excuse.
“We need to put in at least a seven out of 10 performance every game and we are not doing that.”