England’s keeper dilemma: The drastic decline of Joe Hart

With the World Cup no less than 119 days away, Joe Hart’s goalkeeping position seems more uncertain than ever seeing as the 30-year-old can’t manage a game for West Ham.

In 2015, The Daily Mail wrote how Hart was the best keeper in the world but now just months away from the 2018 Russia World Cup, he can’t even muster a good enough performance for West Ham to replace Adrian in goal. Now that they have been knocked out of all competitions bar the Premier League of course, cup-keeper Hart is finding that time is of the essence and that his no.1 jersey for England is in serious jeopardy.

I suppose the only reason Hart may not be too concerned about losing his spot as England’s number one is that other keepers have offered little to suggest that they would be capable of performing better than Joe Hart.

Jordan Pickford had a nightmare start to his Everton career but now seems to have found some form which is likely to be because of Big Sam’s influence. Elsewhere, Stoke’s Jack Butland is struggling to make a case to be the Three Lions goalkeeper as the defenders in front of him at Stoke simply aren’t helping, as the Potters are on their way currently to relegation.

On their day though, both keepers can offer real quality to England’s defence and with Joe Hart unable to find any game-time, Pickford and Butland will surely both fancy themselves to claim that jersey.

So how did it all go wrong for Joe Hart? Well this desperate decline started at the hands of Pep Guardiola and his arrival at Manchester City.

Pep wants sweeper-keeper, not Hart
Pep Guardiola brings in Claudio Bravo to replace Hart as City no.1.

Hart was hugely popular with the Manchester City fans and it came as a shock to many when Guardiola was clearly looking to replace the 30-year-old.

The Spaniard got his way and after eyeing Barcelona’s Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, he had to settle for his team-mate – Claudio Bravo.

The Chilean was introduced as the hottest sweeper-keeper around and with Guardiola keen to stamp his authority and quickly introduce the tiki-taka system at City, he even wanted his goalkeeper to play the ball around with his feet, something Joe Hart didn’t have the capability to do, apparently.

Bravo was therefore the foreseeable number one for City and he certainly made a name for himself… as easily one of the worst signings of the season. As of January that season, of the 24 shots on target, Bravo let in 16 of those attempts. But at least he’s good with his feet, right?

Citizen fans were reminiscing of the days when they had Joe Hart in goal, pulling off save after save.

But where was Hart when Bravo was playing badly? Torino.

Hart’s rollercoaster stay in Torino
Hart endured an interesting time abroad at Torino.

“John Hart” as he was referred to on the team sheet for his first Torino game may have thought to himself why exactly he chose to move to Italy on loan as during his first game, he was greeted by a half-full stadium and those 15,000 in the ground saw him concede three, with the last being a big mistake from himself to add insult to injury.

Despite his below-par performances on the pitch, fans were happy to see his commitment to the club as he was taking Italian lessons.

While only keeping five clean sheets in 36 games for Torino, football fans back in England regularly saw clips of his latest mistakes. Although Hart also had some brilliant matches for the Italian side, those were put to the side as the public wanted to focus solely on the mistakes made by the Englishman.

The club’s president summed up Hart’s time in Italy with this brutally honest assessment:

He is an important goalkeeper. We probably didn’t expect so many mistakes from an England international… but he did some good things, too.”

It was clear that Pep Guardiola’s opinion on Hart would not change regardless of Claudio Bravo’s hopeless performances and when leaving Italy after his year loan, the question of where next arose…

Joe has Hart set on West Ham
Hart arrives at West Ham on a season-long loan.

West Ham fans were full of optimism when they discovered they had agreed a deal to bring England’s number one to Stratford as they had goalkeeping problems of their own in the 2016/17 season.

Not only would he bring a sturdy pair of hands but also a commanding voice to the backline, at least so the fans hoped.

Before being ineligible to face parent club Manchester City in the Premier League, Hart has conceded 30 goals in just 14 games. Fans were rejoiced to see his name off the team-sheet for the City game and after Adrian impressed in his absence, David Moyes decided to stick with the Spaniard.

That came about in December and now in February, Hart has since made four appearances, all in cup competitions.

Hart’s hopes to remain as England’s number one have struck a huge bump in the road and it is still unclear as to whether the 30-year-old will be trusted by Gareth Southgate this summer.

The once regarded “best goalie in the world” has endured a tough couple of years, deeply limiting his chances of remaining the Three Lions man between the sticks.

This will remain the big talking point for months in the build up to the Russia World Cup but one thing is for sure though, without guaranteed game-time, Joe Hart is facing the real possibility of being dropped.


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