Joe Hart Must Raise Level of Play for Both Club and Country

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistOctober 3, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Goalkeeper Joe Hart of Manchester City shouts instructions during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Manchester City and FC Bayern Muenchen at Etihad Stadium on October 2, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Quite simply, Joe Hart hasn't been good enough for Manchester City in recent weeks, and it's beginning to raise the question of whether he's good enough for England heading into the World Cup this summer. 

He was pretty dreadful against Bayern Munich in Champions League play on Wednesday, allowing two near-post goals that he absolutely could have saved. BBC Sport broke down his recent struggles:

Hart, who has 35 international caps and kept clean sheets in England's last two World Cup qualifiers, was at fault for two of Bayern's three goals, failing to stop routine shots from Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben.

The Manchester City keeper was also slow to react for Andreas Weimann's winner for Aston Villa last weekend, was beaten at a corner by Cardiff striker Fraizer Campbell in August and allowed a shot from James Morrison to go straight through him during England's victory against Scotland at Wembley.

Here is the Ribery goal, which Hart clearly should have saved.

And here is Robben's effort, which is a tougher save for sure, but Hart displayed poor positioning and was beaten on the near post.

For what it's worth, Hart's recent form hasn't seemed to bother England manager Roy Hodgson, who said at a recent press conference, via BBC Sport, "As far as I'm concerned, Joe Hart is my number one. He has never let me down."

The same cannot be said for Manchester City. The club have hit a pretty rough patch of form, losing their past two games, and inconsistency has been a problem in general, with a loss to Cardiff City and draw against Stoke City earlier in the year. 

One thing that can help stem the unpredictable ups and downs of an inconsistent side is solid play from a team's keeper. The last thing City needed was to give up an early and cheap goal against a Bayern Munich side that were favored in the first place, even at Etihad Stadium. 

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Goalkeeper Joe Hart of Manchester City fails to stop a shot from Franck Ribery (not in picture) of Muenchen during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Manchester City and FC Bayern Muenchen at Etihad Stadium o
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Manchester City's defense hasn't exactly done Hart many favors this season, as the team has allowed 10 goals in nine games across all competitions. 

But Hart has been a disappointment by all accounts. WhoScored.com has given him an overall match rating of 6.32, and his 6.35 match rating in Premier League play is 19th in the league. That's right, according to WhoScored, Hart has been the 19th-best keeper in the league with 20 teams.

Yikes.

It's hard to imagine Hart failing to raise his level of play moving forward, both because he's proven in the past to be an excellent player and because his spot as England's first-choice keeper is likely hanging in the balance. 

Time to guard that near post a bit more carefully, Mr. Hart.

 

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