In episode 254 in “The Steady Decline of English Football”, England’s first-choice goalkeeper from Euro 2016 is no longer first choice for his club, Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola dropping Hart has hardly come as a bombshell to most, but it’s definitely one that has repercussions on the state of goalkeeping in this country, leaving the Premier League with just four starting English goalkeepers.
The cloud of a keeper more dexterous with the ball at his feet has hung low over Hart’s head since the announcement of Pep’s arrival and his performances with his hands over the summer have made his case to be number one very weak.
The thing is, Joe isn’t bad technically, but it is his inability to set off quick attacks or see passes early enough for them to be effective.
Joey Barton may have called City’s handling of the situation “disgusting”, but the reality is this is just football.
Guardiola has a history of discarding better and even higher profile players than Joe Hart in his search for perfection and, in this respect, Hart is just a casualty of football the same as any other player in his position.
Compared to the likes of Neuer and Claudio Bravo, his stats may not stand up to the requirements set by Pep, yet, unless he is given no other option (ie another keeper is brought in and Caballero is on the bench), I think Hart should give it year and fight it out at City.
It could be a gamble for him, to run the risk of a season of only playing League Cup games, but, in respect to his place in the England team, next summer is a tournament-free time and the following year will be more important for him to be playing regularly.
But most of all, if he left before the transfer deadline, he’d be sacrificing the chance to spend a year learning under one of the most gifted coaches the world has known.
That year of knowledge, education and, even at his age, development of his game, could prove to be a huge springboard for the home straight of his career.
If Pep sees him as inadequate in such a huge department for a keeper then others will, and do, too, so why not use this year as one of further development and improve his game and make sure he isn’t left behind in what should be his prime?
Hart is still seen as somewhat of a favourite by many Manchester City fans.
I spoke to a friend of mine, Christie McDonald, about Joe’s connection with the City fans and he said that, for all his flaws, most would be sad to see him go.
In a world where chasms exist between players and fans, along with Zabaleta and perhaps Fernandinho, Hart is one of the few City players to have a genuine connection with the fans.
Success can come at a cost though, and Manchester City fans have to accept that to fly to the next level of truly elite clubs, ballast might have to be thrown overboard.
My advice to Joe Hart would be to sit tight and fight it out.
Pass completion percentages of others in Spain and Germany might be significantly better, but adapting to life in the Premier League may prove more difficult for them.