Joe Hart: Assessing His Performance for Manchester City This Season

Pradeep KumarFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2013

Joe Hart: Assessing His Performance for Manchester City This Season

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    Manchester City emerged victorious in their FA Cup semi-final match against Chelsea on Sunday.

    Courtesy of goals from Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero, the Citizens booked themselves a spot in the cup final for the second time in three years.

    However, conspicuous by his absence in the starting XI was Joe Hart, the club and England’s No. 1 goalkeeper. Given the magnitude of the game, it was natural to expect manager Roberto Mancini to play his very best in between the sticks.

    But the Italian instead kept faith with Costel Pantilimon, the club’s No. 2, who had guarded the nets in all of City’s FA cup matches.

    Not that it means anything to Joe Hart or his position at the club, as he has been an ever present in all their Premier League and Champions League matches.

    However, City look certain to come up short in their quest for the Premier League as neighbours and league leaders Manchester United romp their way home on the cushion of a massive 15-point lead.

    One of the key factors in City’s maiden Premier League title triumph from last season was Joe Hart. He had an incredible season in between the sticks and was arguably the best in Europe at a point in time.

    Now, however, with his team falling short, it makes sense to analyse whether the Shrewsbury-born goalie had as much a part to play in City’s failures as his other teammates.

General Stats

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    Joe Hart has made 37 competitive appearances for Manchester City this season barring friendlies.

    Of these, 31 came in the Premier League while six of them were in the UEFA Champions League. Whereas he managed to keep 14 clean sheets in the Premier League, the English No. 1 could not claim a single clean sheet in the Champions League as City went out of the competition in the group stages.

    Now, let’s take a look at Hart’s average match day performance rating points and compare them with that of shot stoppers across the Premier League.

    Serial No

    Player

    Club

    Appearances

    Average Rating

    1

    Simon Mignolet

    Sunderland

    33

    6.94

    2

    David de Gea

    Man United

    24

    6.92

    3

    Jussi Jaaskelainen

    West Ham

    32

    6.92

    4

    Mark Schwarzer

    Fulham

    30

    6.91

    5

    Petr Cech

    Chelsea

    29

    6.88

    6

    Ben Foster

    West Brom

    25

    6.84

    7

    Brad Guzan

    Aston Villa

    31

    6.83

    8

    Julio Cesar

    QPR

    24

    6.80

    9

    W Szczesny

    Arsenal

    19

    6.76

    10

    Asmir Begovic

    Stoke City

    33

    6.72

    11

    Artur Boruc

    Southampton

    16

    6.66

    12

    Tim Krul

    Newcastle United

    24

    6.68

    13

    Tim Howard

    Everton

    30

    6.65

    14

    Michel Vorm

    Swansea

    21

    6.61

    15

    Hugo Lloris

    Tottenham

    21

    6.60

    16

    Jose Reina

    Liverpool

    21

    6.60

    17

    Adam Federici

    Reading

    21

    6.52

    18

    Joe Hart

    Man City

    31

    6.51

    19

    Mark Bunn

    Norwich City

    19

    6.45

    20

    Ali Al-Habsi

    Wigan

    28

    6.27

     

    In his 31 Premier League appearances, Hart has let in 27 goals at an average of 0.87 goals per game.

    He has saved one out of the two penalty kicks conceded by his team with a success rate of 50 percent.

    At the time of this writing, Manchester City has had 280 shots taken by opponents against its defence. City also had 80 shots on goal registered against them.

    Saving 53 of the 80 shots on goal gives the City No. 1 a save percentage record of 66.25.

    Hart has played for 2,790 Premier League minutes scoring an average rating of 6.51, which is the 18th best amongst first choice goalkeepers of the Premier League.

Comparison

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    Comparing a few statistics with that of last season when City incredibly won the Premier League reveals a little bit of a lull in form for Joe Hart.

    In 38 Premier League games last year, Hart only conceded 29 goals at an average of 0.76 goals per game. He also kept 17 clean sheets en route to his second straight Premier League golden glove award.

    He only saved one of the three penalty kicks that his team conceded, thus, giving him a penalty kick save percentage of 33.3.

    Registering 375 shots, Manchester City had one of the strictest of defences across the Premier League last season. City had 133 shots on their goal during this period.

    Joe Hart managed to put hand to ball on 102 of the 133 occasions that he found it angled at his net. This gave him a save percentage of 76.7.

What Does It Mean?

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    Now, before you start scratching your heads, I’ll make my point.

    Joe Hart is a crucial piece of the jigsaw for Manchester City. He is indispensable to the Manchester City setup which is incredible considering only two other players at the Etihad enjoy the same status as Hart—Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure.

    Now, his statistics, if they don’t suggest anything out of the contrary, proves that he has had a downturn in form comparing to the usual high standards that we have come to expect of the man.

    Joe Hart has had an average season at best. However, it is wrong to assume either that or a lack of focus and quality saves have affected City’s season.

    Let’s rewind our memories a little to the period when City were still competing in the Champions League.

    City, drawn into a group also consisting of the domestic champions of Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, exited the competition at the group stages placing last. City did not win a single encounter in the group stage, losing all three away games whilst drawing in their home games.

    However, their early exit was not down to City lacking depth and quality. It was the team’s collective failures on the pitch that caused their early exit. Although, Roberto Mancini’s tactical details came under the scanner, the failure was more down to the inability of the players to adapt and play to their manager’s demands rather than a mistake on the part of the classy Italian.

    Joe Hart especially showcased poor form throughout all of their matches, letting in 11 goals in the six games. Whilst he did produce 33 saves, many of them were routine and did not affect the outcome of the game.

    But Hart repeatedly looked to struggle against shots that kept low and tested him. He was prone to committing errors from shots taken from a range during much of the early part of the season.

    This ultimately cost City in the Champions League.

    However, the Premier League story is a bit different.

    If you had had a careful look at the statistics mentioned in the previous slides, you can see that Hart has had comparatively little to do in front of the net from last season.

    This means that City have improved their defence greatly over last season and consequently has let fewer attackers through on their goal. An encouraging partnership is blossoming between captain Vincent Kompany and Serbian recruit Matija Nastasic, building on from last season’s strong showing by Kompany and Joleon Lescott.

    Although, there have been fewer instances of shots on goal, Joe Hart has noticeably saved a lot less than what he had at this point during last season. This does mean a lull in form but nothing significant to have actually cost Manchester City the Premier League title.

    It is interesting to note that Hart has also had three games during this season where he came a cropper, failing to prevent anything aimed at his goal—the opener against Southampton, the early season derby against Manchester United at the Etihad and the recent defeat against Everton at Goodison Park.

    On a side note, three other games during the season, versus West Ham United (away), Reading and Fulham (home), Hart had no shots on goal to deal with.

    His lowest, in terms of performance, have come against Southampton as the Saints have plundered six goals against Manchester City in the Premier League with Hart at the net. The away performance at Norwich City too failed to meet the mark.

    On a perfectly normal day, Joe Hart’s performances need not deserve much criticism considering that he has still managed to keep 14 clean sheets, the highest in the league.

    However, City’s rapid rise in the English domestic league means that there can be no excuses for failing to perform at the highest level week in week out. The consequences of that can sometimes be too heavy as City found it out to be in the Champions League.

    Despite the obvious lull shown in his display charts, Hart has had a fairly decent season but not so good compared to the standards set by him. In essence, it means that his performances, even if not far off from the quality expected of many top level goalkeepers, unfortunately, has not helped his club in the pursuit of the title.

    They have failed to inspire his teammates to perform as well.

    However, to pin the blame on Joe Hart would be wrong, given that City’s shortcomings have been due to a multitude of reasons.

    One amongst them, even if Fergie thinks otherwise, is their failure to land Robin van Persie.

     

    All stats sourced from—Whoscored.com, scores.nbcsports.msnbc.com