Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart has been heavily criticised in the media following his performance in the 3-1 home loss to Bayern Munich. Whilst Hart could have done better for Munich’s first and third goals, neither of them came directly as a result of a glaring error from himself, and it is fair to say that City in general were largely outclassed in every department by formidable opposition. In my opinion, the media have been unfair in their criticism of the England number 1; using him as an easy scapegoat.
Gary Neville has been particularly critical, stating that he should have done better for two of Bayern’s 3 goals. This is probably true. However, this analysis is being used by the media to question Hart’s position as England number 1. The Daily Mail has even started a poll, where readers can decide whether or not Hart should be dropped by England after this “nightmare” of a performance. BBC Sport’s Phil McNulty has also taken a, in my opinion, exaggerated jibe at Hart, questioning his place at both domestic and international level, and describing him as having reached “crisis point”.
Criticism of Hart has been rife in recent months, with every performance and goal conceded placed under the microscope. However, people seem to be forgetting to look at the statistics. Hart has won the coveted Premier League ‘Golden Gloves’ award for most clean sheets three seasons in a row, and has generally been consistently reliable, and at times arguably outstanding, throughout his career.
It would be fair to say, that Hart is going through a bad patch of form at the moment, but at 26 years old, he is still young, and still learning his trade. In a short career, he has already won the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League in 2012. Joe is a strong character, recently responding to criticism of the England team from Gary Lineker by humorously quipping “they can tweet all they want from their sofa“. However, constant hounding from the press is hardly going to help his development.
We need to stick by our top English players (especially in World Cup year), not condemn them to failure after a bout of bad form before they have reached their full potential.