Despite backing his star goalkeeper, a major dip in form has seen the Chilean boss of Manchester City admit he is unsure whether Joe Hart or backup Costel Pantillimon will start the upcoming match against Everton Saturday.
The oft-brilliant but mistake-prone Hart was more the latter in the midweek tie against Bayern Munich, and that could prove to be the icing on the cake for a change between the sticks.
The English number-one’s performance against Bayern wasn’t fraught with glaring mistakes, but for a man with such a world-class reputation all three goals against the defending champions were clearly results he could have prevented with better positioning and quicker reactions.
This has led his manager Manuel Pellegrini to defend his first-choice (for now) keeper’s ability, but also admitted there’s a chance he may lose his place.
“I will decide tomorrow (Saturday) if he starts” Pellegrini told Sky Sports. “I don’t tell you now if Joe will play because the players don’t know yet, I am always contemplating different things. Of course Joe knows he must improve the way he is playing but he has our trust. Tomorrow I will decide.”
Pellegrini maintained that despite the errors, Hart has the backing of not just the manager, but the entire squad.
“Of course, he feels that he didn’t do very well but I think he doesn’t have any problem. He continues with the trust of all the team and with our trust so we hope he will recover soon from what he did last match. The three goals we conceded against Bayern Munich were not only Joe Hart’s responsibility for what happened.”
Many have criticized the City squad for not having someone to challenge Hart enough. Pantillimon has not made an appearance in the Premier League during his two seasons backing up Hart.
Yesterday, England manager Roy Hodgson firmly stood behind Hart as his first-choice goalkeeper, stating strongly, “I’m not blind so I do realize this is not a good moment for Joe. He’s a proud man and a very good goalkeeper, so when he’s criticized he’s very unhappy. But I still believe in Joe Hart. I have faith in him and strongly believe he won’t let England down and he’ll play well. He’s never let me or the team down in my time during my 18 months here, and I’ve every faith he’ll have the confidence to put this behind him. He’ll come through the games, get us through and put that bad form behind him.”