Recent reports indicate that Manchester City’s long serving number 1 Joe Hart is set to leave the club this summer. What does this mean for Pep Guardiola’s side going forward?
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to our main event! In this corner, we have the greatest manager in football today, the legend of Barcelona and Bayern, winner of 20 trophies in 7 years, the one, the only – Pep “The Boss” Guardiola! And, in this corner, he’s the face of Manchester City, the face of England, the face of Pep’s nightmares – he’s Joe “The Number 1” Hart!
Here’s one fight the crowd is going anything but wild to see. New City manager Pep Guardiola, to absolutely nobody’s surprise, is showing his metal and his disregard for player status at the club, as indeed he did at clubs previous, by tearing down many of the idols his predecessors dare not touch. It’s a shock to the system for all-seeing the status quo flushed down the toilet in such an unexpected way, but for none more so than Joe Hart.
Hart is a legend at the club, cut him and he’d bleed endless blue they say. His position between the sticks for club and country stands as an eternal source of pride for every Citizen and his performances in years gone past has been a key element of their sustained success.
Nonetheless, it seems Hart’s time at the Etihad is coming to a swift close, the first and perhaps the biggest victim of the great Pep clean out of 2016. Those who know Pep’s style, know the pain that caroused through the entire body of FC Barcelona when he set about ditching galacticos Ronaldinho, Deco and ultimately Samuel Eto’o as his first role at the club. And even worse, then he had no record on which to rely! But shed them he did and record he built, today he seeks to replicate the same for Manchester City.
Hart’s dilemma is a simple one, he isn’t the kind of keeper Pep wants nor needs. Pep’s style is there for all to see, it’s no secret at all. Tiki-taka. Passing, moving but above all possession. It starts from the back and works its way to the front. In this way, the role of the goalie is as important as that of a midfielder, perhaps even more so. Shot stopping is important, but distribution is king. Keeping possession limits oppositions goal scoring opportunities and thus provides the clean sheets, alongside bags of goals.
For Joe, this style of play is alien and arguably the worst aspect of his game. His pass percentage completion for last season stands at an entirely unacceptable 52.6%. Indeed, acceptable for Manuel Pellegrini, but for Pep it’s not nearly good enough. It just doesn’t fit with what he’s looking for, and if one piece doesn’t fit then the whole puzzle is ruined. It starts at the back and works its way to the front.
This has led to the ultimate fallout between Guardiola and Hart, when, quite unexpectedly to many, Pep elected to play second keeper Willy Caballero in his place for City’s opening day league game on Saturday last. According to many reports, including by BBC Radio Manchester Play by Play commentator Ian Cheeseman, Hart did not take well to his being side-lined and had a very public fallout with Pep. This has, in turn, led to further rumours that Joe will simply be moved along to another club.
As if to confirm this, it has been well-known that Manchester City have been linked with many goalkeepers this summer, having already secured the services of Geronimo Rulli for the future. With the breaking of the news of Hart’s dilemma, comes the news, from Mundo Deportivo, that City are on the doorstep of signing Barcelona number 1 Claudio Bravo, the player having agreed terms with the club.
Definitely a situation most involved with City wasn’t taking place, but perhaps a necessary evil in the end. Though Hart has been publicly backed by the club and its ownership, they haven’t brought in Pep to deny him anything and everything he wants.
Case in point, every player has hand selected has been pursued this summer, regardless of costs. So too, it’s unthinkable that City wouldn’t give Guardiola the opportunity to build the team the way he wants to, particularly in his inaugural season.
As for Hart, while his poor Euros with England may leave some wary, the majority know it’s a blip on his radar. What can’t be swept under the rug is that he doesn’t appear to be the goalie that Pep needs, or perhaps even wants. It seems that we are heading for a clash of the two titans and, while the victor is assured, the loss is taken by many.