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. Transfer Rumor Roundup: Deadline Day Morning edition

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:35 AM EDT

    Alderweireld Getty Images

    There’s going to be plenty of movement today, and the early morning brings us news on Jay Rodriguez, Alvaro Negred, Matija Nastasic, and more.

  2. Reports: Manchester United nearing cut-price loan for Falcao

    Sep 1, 2014, 7:55 AM EDT

    Falcao AP

    Manchester United are reportedly close to securing a world-class striker for just $9 million.

  3. Done Deal: Transfer activity roundup

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:57 PM EDT

    Cerezo Osaka v Manchester United Getty Images

    Roundup of football transfers across Europe today.

  4. Ancelotti: Real Madrid’s ‘attitude and concentration’ must change

    Aug 31, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-PSG-PRESSER

    Real Madrid manager insisted that his squad just lost focus on Sunday when they were upset by Real Sociedad.

  5. Darren Fletcher ‘confident’ Manchester United will trump struggles

    Aug 31, 2014, 8:24 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Galatasaray - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    Darren Fletcher isn’t perturbed by Manchester United’s super-early season struggles.

  6. Toronto FC confirms Jermain Defoe transfer talks have taken place

    Aug 31, 2014, 6:58 PM EDT

    Toronto FC's Jermain Defoe scores from the penalty spot against San Jose Earthquakes during first half MLS action in Toronto on Saturday June 7, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young) AP

    Jermain Defoe has been linked away from Toronto FC, with a possible return back to England.

  7. HIGHLIGHTS: Real Madrid falls to Real Sociedad in remarkable comeback

    Aug 31, 2014, 6:18 PM EDT

    _77293433_hi023702086 Getty Images

    Real Madrid didn’t display their standard victorious level of play as Real Sociedad shocked Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

  8. MLS Snapshot: D.C. United 2-0 New York Red Bulls

    Aug 31, 2014, 5:22 PM EDT

    DC United v New York Red Bulls Getty Images

    D.C. United keeps strong at the head of the Eastern Conference, defeating the New York Red Bulls, 2-0.

  9. Geoff Cameron removes himself from U.S. national team roster

    Aug 31, 2014, 3:38 PM EDT

    Geoff Cameron AP

    Geoff Cameron has withdrawn from the United States’ latest roster prepped for the Czech Republic match.

  10. Watch Live: DC United vs. New York Red Bulls (Lineups)

    Aug 31, 2014, 2:53 PM EDT

    RedBulls AP

    DC United hopes to fend off Bradley Wright-Phillips and company in the Atlantic Cup.

  11. Reports suggest Arsenal unlikely to sign a replacement striker for Giroud

    Aug 31, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT

    Sanogo Getty Images

    Despite Yaya Sanogo’s disappointing performance against Leicester City, Wenger may sit on his squad.

  12. Reports: “Chicharito” Hernandez close to loan at Real Madrid

    Aug 31, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    Hernandez Getty Images

    After spending a career on the bench at Manchester United, he’s going to another club where he’ll likely be a backup.

  13. Leicester City 1-1 Arsenal: Home side holds strong for draw

    Aug 31, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT

    Leicester Getty Images

    Leo Ulloa hit back at Arsenal’s early goal and Leicester held on strong against a tired and wasteful Arsenal.

  14. Judging by his debut, Brendan Rodgers has broken through Mario Balotelli’s mental block

    Aug 31, 2014, 12:23 PM EDT

    BalotelliRodgers Getty Images

    It appears the usually erratic, angry, and impulsive Mario Balotelli is nowhere to be found, and the Liverpool manager is to thank.

  15. Done deal: Chelsea sign Loic Remy from QPR

    Aug 31, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT

    Picture credit: Squawka Picture credit: Squawka

    With Torres, Lukaku, and Ba all gone and Costa proving injury prone, Remy comes in as cover at Stamford Bridge.

  16. Watch Live: Leicester City vs. Arsenal (Lineups)

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT

    Sanogo AP

    Yaya Sanogo starts up front in place of the injured Olivier Giroud. Esteban Cambiasso is on the bench for Leicester.

  17. Aston Villa 2-1 Hull City: Swarming start, shaky finish leave Villa undefeated still

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

    VillaHull Getty Images

    Aston Villa were bright nearly the whole match but struggled to fend off Hull late in a close victory.

Featured video

Week 3: Saturday Premier League recap