Joe Hart’s heroics at Wembley on Tuesday against Germany intensified the debate currently grappling Manchester City supporters. Should the Manchester City net-minder be replaced permanently by a long-term transfer target or should he be temporarily replaced to simply get through 2013-14? Media reports have raised the possibility of Julio Cesar, a top keeper who has been dropped completely by QPR, joining Manchester City on short-term deal.
The move makes perfect sense for City who need to keep faith with Hart long-term. Much of the blame for the Blues away form has been placed at Hart’s feet by a simplistic narrative pushed in the English press. However, the reality is the makeshift backline Man City have been forced to field much of the season as well as a shift in tactics by new manager Manuel Pellegrini are as responsible if not more so for City’s troubles.
Hart has been unfairly maligned in my opinion, but bringing in a short-term stopgap like Cesar will allow Hart time to reflect while being assured his future does not lie away from the Etihad Stadium. It also will give Cesar the opportunity to battle for the Brazil number one shirt at next summer’s World Cup. Hart’s display against Germany on Tuesday demonstrated that even when he is not featuring at the club level, he can give a performance, something sure to weigh on the mind of Roy Hodgson.
Going forward, Hart needs to be treated with kid gloves both publicly and privately. It has been a vicious cycle in the media and at the club for the England keeper since last spring when then Manager Roberto Mancini began openly questioning his keeper in the media. What has become obvious is that when Hart is faced with a media storm and pressure from his manager, he goes into a shell and problems for him snowball.
Since it is wise for the club to continue with Hart as the presumed long-term number one, praising his performances while bringing in another keeper on a short-term loan like Cesar would prevent the situation from becoming more explosive.
The scenario would play out that Cesar starts the second half of the season for the Blues and Hart returns as the presumed starter for 2014-15 season with current starter Costel Pantilimon as his understudy. If Hart doesn’t perform to expectations, the Blues can seek a new keeper in the summer 2015 transfer window.
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