Sunday 19 November 2017

Hart resolves to fight for place after City axe

Tim Rich

Joe Hart has accepted Manuel Pellegrini's decision to drop him and will not agitate for a move away from Manchester City.

The England goalkeeper is said to have taken the news that he will be on the bench for this afternoon's game with Norwich philosophically, even though he is likely to go into England's internationals with Chile and Germany later this month as his club's second-choice goalkeeper.

Hart had expected to be left out after his mix-up with Matija Nastasic led to Chelsea's winner at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and Costel Pantilimon performed well at Newcastle in the League Cup on Wednesday night.

On Thursday, Pellegrini oversaw training with Pantilimon playing in front of a centre-back pairing of Martin Demichelis and Nastasic, both of whom are likely to start against Norwich.

The constant rotation of City's centre-backs, which has been exacerbated by an injury to captain Vincent Kompany has been a factor undermining Hart. Kompany will not play again until after the international break and Pellegrini admitted that the defensive errors which have left the club seventh in the Premier League had to be cut out. "We are conscious of that," he said. "We have lost at least four points away from home that we did not deserve."

Former City goalkeeper Joe Corrigan pointed out that Hart has had to deal with a change of goalkeeping coach, with Xabier Mancisidor replacing Massimo Battara when Pellegrini took over from Roberto Mancini.

On England duty, Hart is coached by Dave Watson, who worked with him when both were at Birmingham City.

"I worry what the impact of another foreign goalkeeping coach has on him," Corrigan said.

"He has had an Italian for three or four years, now he has a Spanish one and their management of goalkeeping isn't the same as a British goalkeeping coach. He only meets up with Dave when he is on international duty. It has got to be hard for him."

It will not have helped Hart's self-esteem either that Pantilimon was not included in the Romania squad to contest the upcoming World Cup finals play-off against Greece.

Even so, Pantilimon can expect to feature in at least the next three games for City – at home to Norwich and CSKA Moscow and away to Sunderland. The crunch for Hart will come if he is still out of the side closer to the league's Christmas programme.

He has a vastly better relationship with Pellegrini than with Mancini but the question is whether he can afford to be City's second-choice goalkeeper in a World Cup year.

Pellegrini may have had little choice but to play Pantilimon. The 6ft 8in Romanian, who played in all of City's run to last season's FA Cup final, suggested that the showpiece clash with Wigan would be his last. Mancini promptly dropped him for Hart for the Wembley match.

Mancini's sacking persuaded Pantilimon to stay but he was entitled to ask, with Hart this badly out of form, whether he would ever be given a league game.

Since making a £3m move from Politehnica Timisoara in 2011, Pantilimon has played a dozen cup ties but has never made a league appearance. Had this pattern not been broken now, the club would have expected a transfer request in January. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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