How Manchester City Boss Manuel Pellegrini Should Buy at January Transfer Window
(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Unfortunately for Manchester City, the one thing manager Manuel Pellegrini needs is the one thing he probably cannot get in the January transfer window.
And I am not talking about a new keeper.
But excoriating Hart for this outcome is both unjust and short-sighted.
It was Hart, covering for yet another slapstick bit of chaos in front of him in Moscow midweek, who stoned Keisuke Honda from point-blank range to put City on the precipice of Champions League knockout qualification.
Hart will no doubt hear that, for the second time in less than a month, a wild-eyed foray from his line allowed the deciding score to breach his goal with him out of position.
Hart's rejoinder, if he wanted to be honest, would be that playing keeper for a high-profile club like City is tough enough with steady play at centre-back.
Without it, the position is akin to juggling chainsaws blindfolded.
In 2011-12, when Vincent Kompany was fairly healthy and Joleon Lescott was not yet past it, Hart kept 17 clean sheets in 38 Premier League starts and won his second consecutive Golden Glove Award.
Since then, Kompany has been pinging in and out of the City XI. Sometimes he can go. Sometimes he starts and does not finish. Sometimes he cannot go at all.
In a related story, every pundit and their significant other now thinks Hart has lost his confidence or maybe was not as good as advertised in the first place. Maybe they should take a look at how the first nine matches of this Premier League season have laid themselves out for Hart.
Kompany has started four of those matches at centre-back. Kompany's incumbent partner, Matija Nastasic, has started but six of them.
The rest of the time, Hart has had to account for the decrepit Lescott and the out-of-position Javi Garcia patrolling the precious real estate in front of him.
How bad has the play in front of Hart been? Martin Demichelis made his first start in a City shirt at Stamford Bridge. What is that they say again about desperate times?
What should Pellegrini do in January?
Right, so what should Pellegrini buy at the January transfer window? A centre-back who can play like Kompany did in 2011-12.
As Pellegrini found out in August with Nastasic down, though, those players are just not for sale.
Regardless, there will be calls for Hart's hide again this week. I myself have not been immune to that.
In light of recent developments and on further reflection, though, it is inappropriate to judge Hart harshly given the mess he has to deal with in front of him weeks in and out.
If your centre-backs played every high ball like a live grenade, you'd probably run at all of them too.
Maybe Kompany will finally get fit and set things on City's back line right again. If he cannot, maybe Pellegrini can extract a centre-back from a cash-strapped side and plaster over the hole in the defense.
For the sake of City, Hart and Pellegrini himself, well, here's hoping.
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