Tuesday, March 21, 2023

‘Hart’break For Star As Pep Guardiola Gets Tough At Manchester City; What Is To Follow?

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Sourav Bhakat
An ardent sports lover who loves to sleep, eat and watch Manchester City play. In that order.

After Pep Guardiola was announced as manager there were reports abuzz with speculations and presumptions of a complete overhaul, with brand new line-ups being discussed every other day. Every player was supposedly deemed unfit for the new regime and even someone like Silva was not spared. City fans and pundits were filled with trepidation and a sense of ignorance as the machinations inside the shiny head of Pep is probably known only to him. Well, as he came in and addressed the media and had a couple of photo ops smiling around, greeting people, addressing the players with their cute nicknames, all seemed hunky-dory.

There was a slight aberration when he left Nasri out of his pre-season preparation citing the Frenchman’s inclination to pizzas and pasta over the summer. But people were more than happy to overlook the first warning sign as it was ‘Nasri’, and people love to hate the talented footballer anyways. A little way down the road the first warning signs were evident as he excluded Bony, Mangala and the still slightly chubby Nasri from his pre-season traveling party for the game against Arsenal. People sat up and took notice and the news columns returned to their archives and the stories of the clear-out began doing the rounds. But the biggest development was yet to take place and it did on the first day of the season as the Catalan preferred Willy Caballero in the Manchester City goal.

It was then, that it was well and truly registered that the smooth talking tactical genius was not here to make friends nor always give the perfect smile to the camera. He was here to set up a team and a team which he could say is ‘HIS’. There were speculations from before about the ability of Hart to fit into Guardiola’s scheme of things.

England v Wales - Group B: UEFA Euro 2016

He is adamant that his keepers take part in the build-up play. He wants them to play as an auxiliary back when in possession, almost to be in the same line as his defense when playing out from the back. But as good as a shot stopper he is it is highly unlikely the England international will be able to evolve his game at such advanced stage of his career.

And expectedly, latest reports claim that Claudio Bravo is close to a move to City which leaves Joe Hart’s future in a precarious position. The Etihad outfit’s interest in one of the two Barcelona goalkeepers was apparent throughout the summer with both of them fitting Pep’s profile. But it seems Barcelona have decided keeping Ter Stegen will benefit them in the longer run.

Claudio Bravo was the Chilean hero in two successive Copa America wins and has been a stand-out performer for the Blaugrana. He boasts of impressive passing stats in addition to admirable shot stopping prowess. He has better passing accuracy than Manuel Neuer and is way ahead of Hart in that department.

It was imperative that Pep be given a free hand with the magnitude of the task he had undertaken and though the board will be circumspect in letting Joe Hart go, with the player being one of the most important member of their two title winning teams, it might be the way forward after all.

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