Manchester City Need a Quality Goalkeeper in January to End Joe Hart's Slump
I was fortunate enough to play with some cracking goalkeepers in my time, but even the best of them, David James at Liverpool, was prone to crises of confidence—hence the nickname, "Calamity James."
Manchester City's Joe Hart is in a major slump right now. It's easy to blame the 24-year-old for mistakes like those he made against Bayern Munich, but I don't think he's being helped by the lack of a quality understudy at City. Hart knows he's No. 1 and he knows Manuel Pellegrini is backing him.
What Hart badly needs is somebody almost as cocky as he is putting him under real pressure—a keeper who Pellegrini would trust for a big European night, or to play eight straight games as Hart's replacement. Costel Pantilimon is not that man.
You're not going to get a real top-line keeper as your No. 2, but if you sign somebody with experience and confidence it can prove hugely beneficial to the man in possession. Brad Friedel helped develop Brad Guzan at Aston Villa, he's helping Hugo Lloris at Tottenham and he's also been there fore Heurelho Gomes.
That kind of experience is invaluable. Moreover, having somebody like Friedel around brings the best of out of other goalkeepers. It's the same with strikers—when Manchester United signed Robin van Persie, you could sense Wayne Rooney didn't like not being top dog anymore. It has helped motivate Rooney and bring him back to form.
Manchester City need a signing in January to do the same for Hart. They need to bring in a quality understudy who genuinely threatens him—perhaps a wily old fox who can contribute to his development along the way.
City could have signed Mark Schwarzer, for example, who is doing that job at Chelsea now. If Jose Mourinho had to, he could confidently turn to Schwarzer for a really big Champions League game. That's why they signed him.
As for England, Hart will of course start in their crucial World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland. But I'd like to see Roy Hodgson put faith in another goalkeeper for the friendlies that follow—be it Fraser Forster of Celtic or Stoke's Jack Butland.
To get back to his best, Hart needs somebody to push him. He doesn't have that with either City or England right now, and that has to change.
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