In case you didn’t notice during last Saturday’s Manchester derby, Joe Hart was not in Manchester City’s goal. Rather, it was new Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who has been brought in by Pep Guardiola as part of his footballing philosophy.
In an ideal world, the former Barcelona keeper would have been making his City debut in more comfortable surroundings than the biggest match of the season so far at Old Trafford. Instead, he found himself under the microscope and his first appearance in English football was a baptism of fire which Manchester United hoped to take advantage of by putting an inexperienced Premier League goalkeeper under pressure.
It seemed like Bravo was going to have quiet time in goal with City going 2-0 up in the first 30 minutes and all was going swimmingly for the 33-year-old. However, with just five minutes of the first half to go, an attempt to catch a ball in a crowded box was dropped at the feet of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who half-volleyed the ball into the empty net.
Certainly one way of introducing yourself to the Premier League is to let your opponents score a goal from a clumsy mistake, but then Bravo was lucky when a penalty was not given against him in the second half after a challenge on Wayne Rooney. Even though the Chilean managed to win the ball in City’s box, he went in studs first and if he was anywhere else on the pitch, he could have been sent off.
As funny as the jokes on social media may have been, and amidst harsh punditry from various media outlets, City fans must remember Bravo will need a few matches to adjust to his new surroundings.
Playing in Barcelona’s goal, he will not have encountered being peppered and aggressive playing styles from opponents unless he was playing against the likes of Real Madrid or Atlético and he will therefore need to get used to the unpredictability of the Premier League.
Bravo will also need to get used to working with his back four, who he has mainly only spent time with in training so far, so again, if City end up conceding a goal whilst destroying an opponent over the next few weeks, it’s important to bear in mind that Bravo will not yet have fully adjusted to working with his back four in a competitive situation.
On the same weekend Bravo was making his debut for City, Joe Hart was making a debut of his own.
Once it became evident that Pep Guardiola was not happy with England’s number one, Hart had no choice but to leave City and has ended up at Serie A side Torino as a result.
After seeing videos of Hart being mobbed in Italy, as a City fan, I was sad, but, also happy that he was being adored by his newest fans. Like Bravo however, Hart’s debut did not go swimmingly as he was part of a team which lost 2-1 to Atalanta where Atalanta’s equaliser was down to a Hart mishap.
Failing to reach a corner in the second half after a quiet first half, Hart allowed Andrea Masiello of Atalanta to make it 1-1 after Torino had taken the lead.
Joe Hart’s done a Claudio Bravo. pic.twitter.com/neTPViwMUd
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) September 11, 2016
Atalanta then made it 2-1 from the penalty spot when Hart was sent the wrong way by Franck Kessié.
If this is a way for Hart to prove himself to Guardiola, Italy’s top division will the best test for him as it is a league where if you are not Juventus, there will be a lot of occasions on which your goalkeeper will be called into action. Hart will also hopefully improve his distribution which seems to be the main reason Guardiola decided to replace him. Like his replacement at the Etihad Stadium, what he needs more than anything right now is time.
Written by Matt Astbury
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