As Manchester City succumbed to a last minute defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich last night one player in particular was able to travel back to England safe in the knowledge that they had given a truly top class performance and that man was Joe Hart.
Whilst the performance of the team arguably warranted a draw, Hart stood head and shoulders (pardon the pun) above his team mates as he kept Bayern at bay from the first whistle to almost the end. Football can be a cruel game sometimes and Jerome Boateng’s deflected shot that agonisingly looped past Hart’s desperate dive in the dying embers the game should not detract from what was an excellent performance.
Some have said that it was reminiscent of his performance against Borussia Dortmund in October 2012 where Hart pulled put on a master class of goalkeeping. Indeed, after last night’s game Hart reflected that he tends to be busy against German teams with the Dortmund game evidently at the forefront of his mind. Unfortunately, the hysteria that resulted from Hart’s Dortmund heroics seemed to spark a downturn in fortune for the England ‘keeper. Whether the pressure of being heralded as one of the world’s best goal keeper by a select few and facing the scrutiny of being England’s number one played on his mind no one can be too sure. One thing is for certain though and that is his form dipped considerably. After last night’s performance, it would be wise to proceed with caution.
Hart’s troubles in the last two years are well documented but it is pleasing to see him start the season in such good form. Whilst this is not necessarily a turning point it will certainly give him confidence in the months ahead. With Willy Caballero, the £4.5 million summer acquisition from Malaga, waiting in the wings Hart will be more aware than anyone that he must remain consistent if he is going to keep his starting berth in the team. And that is really the key. Most observers will agree that Hart is technically a very good goalkeeper but that his lack of consistency and tendency to make rash decisions has let him down.
Last night certainly seemed to suggest an upturn in fortunes for Hart but it would be sensible to remember the consequences of the fanfare that surrounded him two years ago. One good game doesn’t make a player in much the same way that one bad game doesn’t break a player. Only time will tell if Hart has finally rekindled his form of a few seasons ago.
Written by Rob Toole who is on Twitter