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