England and Manchester City keeper Joe Hart has come in for some heavy criticism after his recent error against Chelsea cost his team a point in a crucial match.
Hart was left out of City’s Capital One Cup victory over Newcastle on Wednesday night.
His replacement Costel Pantilimon was awarded match of the match, as the giant Romanian kept a clean sheet at St James Park.
He made some good saves and did what he had to do, but more importantly did not make any costly mistakes.
Joe Hart’s mistakes are starting to pile up this season. Mistakes against the likes of Cardiff, Aston Villa and Bayern Munich have all proven costly ones. Hart’s dash off his goal line against Chelsea was yet another costly one.
Hart is only human and people make mistakes, but keepers are judged on the amount of mistakes they make. If a keeper makes very few mistakes only then will they be regarded as world-class. However, if a keeper makes mistakes on a regular basis they will be looked upon as error-prone, a label that few would want.
Mistakes in games such as the game against title rivals Chelsea will be highlighted even more, because those are the sorts of mistakes that can mean the difference between City being champions and not at the end of the season.
Hart seems to be currently having problems dealing with long range efforts and I read a statistic somewhere that suggested Hart is ranked as one of the worse stoppers of long range efforts in the Premier League.
If that statistic is correct, then Manchester City fans and Hart should be concerned about the England keeper. A keeper of his perceived ability should not be allowing so-many goals past him from long range, not every long range effort that has gone past him has been a wonder goal either.
One reason that has been suggested for Joe Hart’s loss of form this season and to a certain extent last season has been complacency. Hart has been the undisputed number one for both club and country in last few years.
He has had little competition for City or England and he knows it. Maybe that has led to Hart working less hard on maintaining his development as a keeper. He seems to have gone backwards and not forward in his development and is relatively young for a keeper.
His recent performances have led to doubts over his position at both international level and domestic level. Celtic Fraser Forster looks to be Hart’s main competition at international level. The calls for the in-form Celtic man to get his chance for the Three Lions have grown this season.
While at City Pantilimon has been Hart’s understudy for a while now and never seems to let City down in his rare appearances for City, mostly in cup competitions. However, Hart’s poor form has led to questions about whether Pantilimon should be given his chance in the Premier League.
City boss Manuel Pellegrini praised the Romanian after the win at Newcastle, telling Sky Sports: “Pantilimon has always had my trust and that of the team.
“He is a good player, that’s why he is here. He may not have played too much because Joe Hart plays last year and this year but I trust him to play. I think for him and the team to keep a clean sheet today was important.”
The City boss has not decided who will be in-goal for Saturday’s game against Norwich. Pellegrini talked about Pantilimon’s chances by saying: “This was a very important match for him. But I will start to think about the game against Norwich on Thursday. Today I was just thinking about winning this match.
“I think that we will talk tomorrow (about the team selection). One goalkeeper can play but the other will have our full support. We will think about it.”
At 26 years old Hart is a young player in terms of goalkeepers. They do not usually reach their prime until their thirties. Whether Hart is selected to play against Norwich on Saturday or not, the former-Shrewsbury keeper needs to starting work hard on his weaknesses.
If he does then he will get through his first real tough spell of his career. If he does not then Hart may find himself out in the cold for both club and country and I am sure that is the last thing he wants.
Should Joe Hart lose his place in the City team?