Throwing an opinion into the void: Joe Hart
When the masses jumped on the anti-Joe Hart bandwagon in the summer, I’m happy to say that I was not one of them. Whilst he certainly made a mistake or two, criticising his chest thumping approach was bizarre when the same papers cried out for passion before and after the tournament. Add to that the fact that we couldn’t score from open play against Iceland and I’m happy not to put too much blame on Hart’s shoulders.
I can tell you a lot about the season that Hart became an established Premier League keeper; in 2009–10 he played 36 times for the mighty Birmingham City, only missing two against his parent club. He was fantastic as we went on a 12 match unbeaten run, quite something for a newly promoted team, preventing table toppers Chelsea scoring in the midst of that run for the first time in 34 games.
Since then Hart has established himself as England’s number 1, winning the Prem, playing in the Champions League and captaining club and country in the process. We all remember his mad celebration when that Ageuro goal went in; it’s almost as memorable as Martin Tyler’s commentary after all. That celebration is symbolic of what Hart gives you: Passion. But not just passion, passion with a fantastic knack for leadership and an ample portion of ability thrown into the mix as well. It’s often said that a good keeper wins you a few points a season, Hart’s leadership and ability give you an extra 10 at least.
That’s why I think Guardiola is making a mistake, he may be unhappy with Hart’s passing ability but in reality that is something that an hour or two a day of work in training can’t solve. Instead he is ‘doing his thing’ as we’ve been told enough since the season started, making his mark by removing one of the clubs big names. Claudio Bravo might be an equally good shot stopper but can you honestly say that his influence in the dressing room will be anywhere near as strong as Hart’s, absolutely not.
I’m not saying we should all cry our eyes out that poor old Joe will be moving clubs, probably with a substantial pay cut, I just think it’s a petty move purely for Pep to show who’s boss. Where ever Hart goes next he’ll be Captain within a year or two and that club will be getting a world class goalkeeper, bettered only, according to Gigi Buffon, by De Dea and Neuer (although I think we can throw Buffon himself in with those two).
The old saying goes that all keepers are crazy, but I think this time that the manager may have lost the plot first.