Unless you’ve been on holiday, living under a rock or going cold turkey on football-related news this week, you’ll be well aware of what’s been going on at Manchester City since the start of the season.
In City’s first competitive game, Pep Guardiola dropped City number one Joe Hart, playing Willy Caballero between the sticks instead.
This was followed up by a Champions League outing that also saw Hart on the bench, and another Premier League game against Stoke without the England keeper.
And now, Barcelona have confirmed that their goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is on the way to Etihad.
Joe Hart out, Claudio Bravo in at Manchester City?
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 22, 2016
In short, it looks like Joe Hart’s Man City career is over.
And in a way, it’s probably not a bad thing. For the last few years, Hart has had very little competition for the number one jerseys for club and country, and it could be argued that he has stagnated a little in that time.
Competition is usually what forces players to the next level, and without that, Hart has been assured of his place; something which has probably been to his detriment.
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) August 22, 2016
A loan move looks the most likely option, with Everton reportedly keen on taking Hart on a season-long swich, and in my view, that’d be a good move for the goalkeeper.
In reality, Hart still has a long time left in the game. Goalkeepers generally play into their late-30s, so this isn’t really “panic stations” time for him, he’ll get another club and he can rebuild his reputation.
But whilst it isn’t catastrophic for Hart, my view is that the way Guardiola has treated him is very shabbily indeed.
For a start, if Guardiola didn’t fancy the player, he could have let him know months ago and let him make alternative arrangements. It should be remembered Guardiola has known about the fact that he’d be at City this season for about the last 10 months – he was always coming to the Etihad.
And quite clearly, he’s not a big fan of Joe Hart. That’s fine, he doesn’t have to like every player; and if Hart doesn’t fit his style of football, then he’s well within his rights to move him on.
But he didn’t have to do it in the way he’s done it.
Imagine if Joe Hart had known that Guardiola didn’t want him at the club back in May. His agent could have started phoning round, getting other clubs interested, and got Hart a new club.
He’d have been able to have a good, solid preseason with the new club, and give himself the best chance of a good season after what was a poor Euro 2016 for the keeper.
But Guardiola didn’t do that.
Instead he just left him out. He embarrassed the guy, leaving him on the bench, and then told him he can leave.
He publicly hung him out to dry.
Guardiola might be regarded as a master tactician, but as far as common decency is concerned, the Spaniard is seriously lacking in my opinion.
It might be the right decision, but it’s been executed in an unacceptable way, and Guardiola has upset a lot of City and England fans with his disrespectful behaviour – and they have a right to be upset.
Good luck Joe, and shame on you Pep.