Joe Hart could be set for a spell on the Manchester City sidelines as manager Manuel Pellegrini is increasingly concerned about the form of England’s No 1 goalkeeper. Hart was at fault as Chelsea snatched a last-minute winner against City on Sunday — charging from his goal, he was beaten as Matija Nastasic attempted to head back. Torres pounced to score the winner.
Pellegrini’s patience has been worn down since the beginning of the season; he had considered dropping Hart following his poor performance against Bayern Munich but was persuaded by first-team coaches that the 26-year-old needed a public display of support. But the incident at Stamford Bridge may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, with Costel Pantilimon told that he will start against Newcastle in the League Cup tonight.
Although Hart has committed a string of errors in recent months, it is not just his public displays which have concerned his manager. Pellegrini has become increasingly unsure about Hart, and indeed his England teammates Joleon Lescott, James Milner and Micah Richards, after monitoring them closely in training since his arrival in June.
The former Malaga boss does not believe Hart’s technical ability has improved enough in recent months, despite frequent drills designed to quicken his distribution in order to help build attacks quicker. Hart’s inability to spot a short pass to a defender or a deep-lying midfielder has caused frustrated Pellegrini.
Manager and goalkeeper maintain a healthy working relationship, however, and Hart is happy working with new goalkeeping coach Xabier Mancisidor, but his high-profile errors and failure to improve his distribution have forced Pellegrini’s hand.
Hart’s indifferent form stretches back to Roberto Mancini’s reign here, and successor Pellegrini was given a headache just three days before the EPL season began when the goalkeeper allowed James Morrison’s shot to squirm past him while playing for England against Scotland.
The Chilean decided not to follow in the footsteps of Mancini, who had criticised Hart on several occasions in his final season in charge at the Etihad Stadium, and instead called for him to prove his doubters wrong. But costly mistakes in away defeats at Cardiff City and Aston Villa followed.
Pellegrini saw a positive response from his shot-stopper after eventually electing to stick with him for the following game against Everton, and indeed Hart rescued City with a fine save in the final minute against CSKA Moscow last week.
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