Manchester City: Why Joe Hart Has Been City's Most Important Player This Season
This has been a fantastic domestic season for Manchester City, regardless of whether the title heads to the blue or red side of the city.
They have well and truly closed the gap on their fiercest rivals, and up until January they looked destined to claim their first league title in 44 years.
A recent slump in form, and Utd's archetypal late surge, has seen them slip five points behind Fergie's men who now occupy top spot.
It's always a tricky question to answer: Who is a side's most important player?
And it can't be confused with who is their "best."
It would be easy to turn to the likes of Sergio Aguero, Yaya Touré or David Silva when discussing City's best players this season. But there's the hook.
All three of these have missed matches and their absence hasn't derailed City's campaign.
Okay, so Aguero has delivered 17 goals in 27 games, Touré controls City's play week in, week out and Silva was a revelation in the first half of the season, but nobody matches Joe Hart for influence and importance.
Here are some statistics from his Premier League season:
- He's played every minute of every game—2,790 to be precise.
- His sheets have remained clean more often than any other keeper—13.
- Only 12.5 percent of the 312 shots he's faced have found the net.
Who Has Been Manchester City's Most Important Player This Season?
Statistics are all well and good, but it's his mental attributes which take him to the next level.
Hart exudes confidence and self-assurance, allowing his defence to play with the knowledge that a safe pair of hands is behind them.
His control of the defence is imperious, orchestrating his defenders' marking meticulously.
And his confidence is hardly unfounded. Such a natural talent hasn't been seen in an English goalkeeper for a number of years, maybe even since the days of Peter Shilton.
He boasts cat-like reflexes and a commanding aerial presence—and at 6'5" it's hardly surprising.
He's also quite possibly the quickest keeper in world football today, as countless eulogising montage videos on Facebook will testify.
For a team who can spend their way out of any predicament, it is testament to Hart's ability that the four City bosses he has served under didn't look elsewhere for a more high-profile stopper.
He's continuing to grow with every passing game, and he will no doubt prove an invaluable member of both the City and England teams for years to come.
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