Manchester City’s goalkeeper Joe Hart has been in poor form recently as his club have faltered this season after their incredible last-day title win. Hart is still the undisputed No.1 for England though even that position might come under scrutiny if he persists with his current level of performances.
Hart was expected to kick-on this season and consolidate his position as one of the best goalkeepers in the league and his loss of form is hard to explain, though there have been plenty of theories.
In fairness to Hart, he has shown glimpses of his skill this season though he has lacked the consistency. Only last month, City and Hart posted four consecutive clean sheets and it looked as though the keeper had turned a corner. However, since then, there have been a couple of fatal mistakes that have all but ended City’s chances of retaining the Premier League title.
In the crucial recent game against Liverpool, Hart was left hapless by strikes from Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge with the 2-2 draw at home costing City dearly.
Hart was also at fault during the embarrassing defeat to Southampton in a match that more or less doomed their chances this season.
The hard work during January had been wasted in those moments, such are the fine lines for a goalkeeper.
At his best, there are few in the league who could compare to Joe Hart. One possible theory for Hart’s recent erratic form is exhaustion. Though it might not seem like much of an excuse for a goalkeeper, Hart has now played 101 consecutive Premier League games as well as all six Champions League games this season.
On top of this, Hart has his England duties and perhaps it is expected that a 25 year-old goalkeeper could exhibit some signs of tiredness given this hectic workload.
On top of this, Hart has been playing in front of a makeshift Manchester City defence given the recent injuries and that has made life a little bit more difficult.
The fatigue ‘excuse’ might perhaps explain the poor performances. The position of a goalkeeper is primarily a position where the mental aspects of the game are more important than the physical aspects. Hart has been under huge pressure recently and it is easy to forget that he is still a relatively young goalkeeper who is still improving. These recent experiences will only make Hart a better goalkeeper going forward in in my opinion and I have no doubt that he will bounce back soon.
City are currently very unlikely to catch United now but they still have a huge game against third-placed Chelsea on the weekend. A defeat against the Blues would reduce the deficit between the two clubs to only one point. This would be a dramatic turnaround as thoughts of retaining their title would shift instead to fighting for a Champions League place, with both Spurs and Arsenal now out of the hunt yet.
A win for City would give them the breathing space of a 7 point lead and would go a long way in confirming their qualification for the Champions League next season.
City might not have any chance of retaining the title this season but if they are to find their rhythm again, then Joe Hart needs to raise his game this weekend and rebuild his slightly damaged reputation.