Skip to content

Manuel Pellegrini holds cards tight on Joe Hart’s status as Manchester City’s #1

Oct 31, 2013, 8:04 AM EDT

Manchester City's Hart sits on the bench ahead of their English League Cup fourth round soccer match against Newcastle United at St James' Park in Newcastle Reuters

Following a sound if not rudimentary performance by Costel Pantilimon in Manchester City’s 2-0 win over Newcastle in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, the uncertainty surrounding Joe Hart‘s status as the club’s #1 goalkeeper continues.

Pantilimon, the 6’8″ Romanian giant, was up to the task when he needed to be, thwarting Shola Ameobi‘s first half effort wide and leaving his line to deny Papiss Cisse an injury time effort to keep the score locked at 0-0.

The Cisse block was key to taking the Magpies into extra time where goals by Alvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko pushed City on to the quarter-finals where they will face Leicester City at King Power Stadium during the week of December 16th.

Deputizing for the much maligned Joe Hart, Pantilimon is a player who many feel manager Manuel Pellegrini may soon make his top man. “Pantilimon has always had my trust and that of the team. He is a good player, that’s why he is here. He may not have played too much because Joe Hart plays last year and this year but I trust him to play.”

Trust. Few words are more important when it comes to goalkeepers. And following his most recent blunder last Sunday against Chelsea, no one knows this better than Hart.

Does he still have the trust of City fans? Of Pellegrini? Of England?

The question is one that sharply divides opinion and the first in line to make his voice heard on the subject will be Pellegrini. Whereas playing Pantilimon in the Capital One Cup was mere rotation – he was getting that call regardless of Hart’s form – which keeper plays against Norwich City this weekend will be determinative of where, exactly, Pellegrini comes down on the controversy.

For now, the Chilean gaffer is remaining tight lipped. “This was a very important match for [Pantilimon]. But I will start to think about the game against Norwich on Thursday. Today I was just thinking about winning this match.

“I think that we will talk tomorrow (about the team selection). One goalkeeper can play but the other will have our full support. We will think about it.”

When pressed for further details about Hart’s standing, Pellegrini was blunt: “I have just told you I will think about that [Thursday].”

So, just how big is the decision before Pellegrini?

Potentially huge. Hart has been City’s #1 since 2007 and was a major factor in guiding the club to its first Premier League championship in 2012. Over the past year Hart’s form has waned, which many feel is due to the fact that he’s never truly been challenged for his spot at City.

It goes without saying that losing his spot would be a blow to his confidence and could have ramifications well beyond City as he is also England’s top netminder heading into the 2014 World Cup, which is just eight months away.

But such is life in professional football and, well, in life. The lessons are simple – step up your game or get passed by. Get passed by and either cower and fold or show the guts it takes to reclaim what was once yours.

If Hart does lose his spot it’s difficult to imagine him failing to come back stronger. Those close to the player describe him as the glue that holds City together, a light-hearted jokester who is competitive and dedicated to his craft. So perhaps a poke in the ribs is exactly what he needs.

We’ll see this weekend.

Latest Posts
  1. MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 0-3 LA Galaxy

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:37 AM EDT

    Philadelphia Union v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    Sounders’ tendency to collapse resurfaces during the Galaxy’s biggest win of the season.

  2. Premier, Champions League quotas leave Mourinho desperate to sell Torres

    Jul 28, 2014, 11:07 PM EDT

    Torres Getty Images

    A terrible move could get worse if Chelsea can’t move the Spanish striker.

  3. Vertonghen confirms interest from Barcelona, intends to stay at Tottenham

    Jul 28, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    Swindon Town v Tottenham Hotspur - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    Belgian international intends to stay at White Hart Lane, with a new, five-year deal on the table.

  4. Van Gaal, Manchester United ready to move on from Fellaini, Kagawa

    Jul 28, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT

    Marouane Fellaini AP

    Napoli, Borussia Dortmund linked to the potential United castoffs.

  5. Radamel Falcao on track to return at weekend’s Emirates Cup

    Jul 28, 2014, 8:22 PM EDT

    FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-PSG-MONACO Getty Images

    Colombian international expected to play Saturday against Valencia.

  6. New York connection: Red Bulls, Cosmos come together on Lade loan

    Jul 28, 2014, 7:37 PM EDT

    New York Red Bulls v DC United - Eastern Conference Semifinals Getty Images

    Time in the NASL will give the 24-year-old needed minutes.

  7. Injured groin sends Rafael home early from Manchester United’s tour

    Jul 28, 2014, 6:48 PM EDT

    rafael Getty Images

    Brazilian’s injury testing United’s depth on the right side.

  8. Danny Williams finally undergoes knee surgery, will miss start of Reading’s season

    Jul 28, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    Reading v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship Getty Images

    U.S. international’s knee surgery will sideline him for “several weeks.”

  9. Rodriguez, Schneiderlin close to joining Pochettino at Tottenham

    Jul 28, 2014, 4:57 PM EDT

    Southampton v Fulham - Premier League Getty Images

    Two Saints look to follow their former manager to North London.

  10. PST’s Major League Soccer Player of the Week: Portland’s Diego Valeri

    Jul 28, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    Diego Valeri's fifth goal of the season, his second game-winner in a row, gave Portland a 3-2 win in Montréal. (Credit: AP) AP

    Timber’s game-winning goal in Montréal separated him from a tight field.

  11. After Balotelli, Martinez take “selfies” with pitch invaders, should we be worried?

    Jul 28, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

    Source, Twitter: @NA_B27 Source, Twitter: @NA_B27

    After two on-pitch selfie’s occur with players over the weekend, security needs to be stepped up.

  12. Brazil want Neymar to play at 2016 Olympics in Rio

    Jul 28, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 23: Neymar of Brazil celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Cameroon and Brazil at Estadio Nacional on June 23, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil. Getty Images

    Could Neymar represent Brazil at the 2016 Olympics in Rio?

  13. Everton buy smart, sign Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic

    Jul 28, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    muhamed_besic AP

    Besic, 21, has signed a five-year deal with the Toffees.

  14. VIDEO: Gareth Bale scores wondergoal for Real Madrid on US tour

    Jul 28, 2014, 1:43 PM EDT

    Villarreal CF v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Getty Images

    Bale smashes in an absolute beauty from distance. Check it out, here.

  15. The great Southampton exodus continues. Why is this happening?

    Jul 28, 2014, 12:58 PM EDT

    Southampton v Hull City - Premier League Getty Images

    After selling over $170 million of talent so far this summer, what are Saints playing at?

  16. US striker Terrence Boyd out injured after tearing ACL

    Jul 28, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C3-RAPID WIEN-KRC GENK Getty Images

    Boyd out after injury in Queens Park Rangers friendly.

  17. Lionel Messi’s tax fraud case will go ahead

    Jul 28, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

    Messi AP

    He may be one of the best soccer players the planet has ever seen, but Messi is not above the law.

  18. Arsenal confirm $27 million signing of Calum Chambers

    Jul 28, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT

    Source: Arsenal FC Source: Arsenal FC

    Arsenal splash the cash to sign 19-year-old Southampton academy graduate.

  19. Harry Redknapp says Loic Remy failing Liverpool medical is “not possible”

    Jul 28, 2014, 10:25 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers' Remy reacts during their English Premier League soccer match against Everton in Liverpool Reuters

    Did Remy fail a medical at Liverpool? ‘Arry isn’t buying it.

  20. British politicians call for Russia to be stripped of 2018 World Cup

    Jul 28, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

    Vladimir Putin AP

    Clegg, Downing Street, discuss Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup.