Joe Hart will be feeling hot under the collar as the pressure mounts to reform the confidence and ability that earned him the position of England and Manchester City’s number one. He is now fighting a battle to maintain his side in both squads.
As England manager Roy Hodgson announced that Hart would remain in his England squad for the remaining two World Cup Qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland, many fans have been calling for him to be dropped or replaced. Noticeably, Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster has been highest on the pecking order after a string of solid performances.
Whilst Forster has been selected for availability, Hodgson has continued to show faith in Hart and emphasised that the 26 year old will remain his first choice. The England manager stated upon announcement of his chosen players, “I still believe in Joe Hart. I strongly believe he won’t let England down and he’ll play well”.
The recent cries for the Man City goalkeeper to be dropped come in the wake of a heavy 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich at home in the Champions League on Wednesday evening. Two goals from Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben were scored at the near post; an area of the goal Hart should have covered.
This has only rounded off a number of growing mistakes even dating back to last year. Noteworthy moments for England include failing to stop a James Morrison long range shot against Scotland at Wembley earlier this year. The confusion around the Tranquillo Barnetta free kick for Switzerland also was scored at the near post.
“I believe Joe will shrug this off. I’m sure he’s not happy with the criticism or the goals he thinks he should have stopped” explained Hodgson.
Despite his own and fans frustration, Hart should be the number one for both England and City. Passionate, confident and strong in leadership, Hart has always been a fan favourite and a great aspiration to any young goalkeeper. His performances earned him the Golden Glove award three seasons in row, from 2010 to 2013. He was also a vital part of the Man City side that won the FA Cup in 2011 and Premier League in 2012. Since then his performances have slightly dropped, with errors occurring more frequently. Confidence began to edge towards cockiness. He must remain focus and let his goalkeeping do the talking in order to stifle the critics. We know he has the ability.
Hart pulled of a number of top class saves last year against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League group stage at the Etihad. His spectacular display held the German side to a 1-1 draw. Here he faced Robert Lewandowski and made himself mighty. He will need to do the same again when he faces the striker against Poland on October 15th.
Whilst it is important for Hart to rekindle his form, it is also important that he faces competition from other goalkeepers. This should make him fight for his position to get the best out of him every game. Until recently, he has found it easy to maintain his place in the side, clearly above the rest of the English keepers. It is easy to see why Hodgson would continue with Hart in the starting eleven. Forster and Norwich City’s John Ruddy were the other two keepers to be named in the 23-man squad. Both have little international experience, which will be vital in England’s crucial remaining qualifying games as they look to bag a place in the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.
“We’re pleased with Fraser,” said Hodgson. “He’s done very well and we’re impressed with him. He has a great future, but it would be a mistake to suggest he should be given the responsibility going into these two vital games. The players with the most experience and have the shirt, have to show they are worthy of it in these two games. Then we’ll see what Fraser can do between now and the summer”.
England squad selection to face Montenegro and Poland:
Forster (Celtic), Hart (Man City), Ruddy (Norwich), Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Cole (Chelsea), Jagielka (Everton), Jones (Man United), Smalling (Man United), Walker (Tottenham), Barkley (Everton), Carrick (Man United), Cleverly (Man United), Gerrard (Liverpool), Lampard (Chelsea), Milner (Man City), Townsend (Tottenham), Wilshere (Arsenal), Defoe (Tottenham), Lambert (Southampton), Rooney (Man United), Sturridge (Liverpool), Welbeck (Man United)