One of the biggest headlines of this weekend’s opening Premier League games was Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart being dropped from the starting lineup against Sunderland.
Manager Pep Guardiola was critical of the Englishman’s skill-set when explaining his decision to choose Willy Caballero over Hart, but is the new City manager within his right to make the call?
Joe Hart has struggled for form
After a promising first-half to the season, Joe Hart’s form dipped in the final months of the 2015/16 campaign, and he carried on such poor showings into the 2016 European Championships with the England national team. For Manchester City, Hart kept just four clean sheets in his last 13 league appearances, conceding eight goals in his final five games.
The 29-year-old was guilty of letting in cheap goals on his weaker left side, and was guilty of poor decision-making when coming off his line. The latter is an area Guardiola highlighted when asked about the decision to drop Hart, saying: “I needed (a passer of the ball) in the build-up and to use the goalkeeper to play quicker to (sweep up through balls from the opposition). Willy had this quality first of all, he trained more times.”
Hart has never been renown for good distribution, nor has he excelled coming off his line in the last few months. After ending the Premier League season poorly and struggling for England, Hart’s pre-season form this summer was also disappointing. He let in two soft goals in a friendly defeat to Arsenal, and his performance hadn’t gone unnoticed by Guardiola.
Next two weeks could shape Hart’s long-term future at the Etihad
The summer transfer window closes in just over two weeks so Manchester City aren’t likely to wait long in finding a goalkeeper. They have been linked with a number of top European shot-stopper, but Hart could still force his way into the reckoning if he can prove his worth to Guardiola.
He knows the areas he needs to specifically work at, and if his attitude is right in training to want to improve his ball-playing ability and decision-making rushing off his line, Hart could stay. Given City’s success in recent years, it’s highly unlikely the England international would join a side outside of the Champions League who aren’t challenging for a domestic title, but the next two weeks could reveal his chances of remaining at the Etihad Stadium.
Joe Hart signed for the Sky Blues in 2006, so he wouldn’t leave the club without a fight. He’s been dropped before for poor form and claimed his number one spot back as a result of such improvements, but where does Hart’s future lie this summer?