If Joe Hart had a pound for every column inch written about him over the last month he would be a significantly richer young man than he is already. It seems that people were waiting to get at him, ready and prepared for this very moment when young Mr. Hart would lose his consistent good form that he has displayed since he took over the number 1 spot at Manchester City from Shay Given back in 2010. It's true he has started to make consistent errors. It may also be true that Costel Pantilimon deserves a chance.
However it was interesting to read the opinion of some of the most respected goalkeepers of yesteryear, most thought that a goalkeeper should be allowed to play through their bad period, as being dropped can have a lasting impact on the players psyche. It seems though that Hart is made of sterner stuff and is actually quite enjoying his well overdue break. As an ever present between the posts for club and country his total playing minutes in the last 3 seasons are well over 10,000. In that time he has barely put a foot wrong until now. If this was translated to percentage errors in that time, it would be less than 0.1 percent. So the big question is “why the big over reaction about his dip in form”?
Hart has not cultivated a persona that is either irritating or overly cocky, in the same way as other high profile players or managers (Balotelli, Mourinho anyone!!), yet this theme runs through a lot of journalistic pieces about Hart and is also expressed on many phone-ins and online forums. Goalkeepers do need to be confident individuals as it is critical to their performance level. They are called on time and time again within a match to stop the ball entering their net. No other player on the field is put under such unrelenting scrutiny when their team is under pressure. A forward can stay forward and not be criticized, a winger can hide in the crowd, but the goalkeeper will be evaluated mercilessly should that ball cross the goal line. So Hart needs to be a confident young guy; it's a natural manifestation.
Perhaps it's some mischievousness at work within these articles. If the media gets a snowball rolling, they know it can lead to consequences, as in this case. Hart was dropped more likely to take him out of the media firing line than anything else. There are of course people who would actually like to see Manchester City falter and for them to slip back to their rightful place!! Who knows for sure, but at the end of this whole episode the real factual analysis will be that Hart is a young man who has probably not been at his best for some time, struggling with his form and finding it difficult to control the makeshift defence that City have put in front of him this season. He will be back without doubt and worryingly for the competition, both within City and outside it, he will likely be back stronger than before. The consequences of this will benefit his club significantly; once the defensive frailty they suffer from on the road has been fixed, City could potentially walk away with the title.