Joe Hart Set to Be Dropped Again for Manchester City vs. CSKA Moscow

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistNovember 4, 2013

Joe Hart may have to get used to life on the Manchester City bench after Manuel Pellegrini gave his backing to the imposing Costel Pantilimon.

Speaking in the buildup to City’s Champions League tie with CSKA Moscow, the Chilean manager confirmed he will stick with the towering Romanian while he remains confident and continues to play well, per Laurie Whitwell of the Daily Mail:

For the moment we must support Costel Pantilimon.

Joe made a lot of mistakes, he knows. So I think for Joe it is a good moment to stop. I am sure that working hard he will return to normal, but I don’t know when. I have confidence in Costel. If I don’t have trust in him I will change it.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02:  Goal-keeper Costel Pantilimon of Manchester City is congratulated on a good save by Martin Demichelis (R) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Norwich City at Etihad Stadium on November 2
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Hart sat and watched as City ripped through Norwich in a 7-0 crushing at the Etihad, an encounter that saw little threat posed to Pantilimon’s goal.

The 26-year-old was forced into just one major exertion during the Sky Blues’ confident display, with Anthony Pilkington’s fierce volley needing tipping over. Aside from that, Pantilimon’s net never threatened to bulge, per Who Scored.

Norwich’s dire performance may have Hart feeling sorry for himself. The England No. 1 made a match-deciding mistake during City’s recent 2-1 loss against Chelsea, a game which saw his reflexes tested far more vigorously.

Even so, his regular stream of mistakes has threatened to undo the club’s fine attacking output this season.

Hart misread the flight of corners during City’s 3-2 loss at Cardiff, failed to keep out Romelu Lukaku’s soft shot against Everton and preceded the Chelsea mistake by rushing off his line against Aston Villa.

Andreas Weimann burst into life on that occasion, confirming a 3-2 comeback win for Paul Lambert’s side.

Pantilimon also claimed a clean sheet during a 2-0 Capital One Cup victory over Newcastle during the week, and he has a real presence about his play. Should the man from Bacau string together a slew of decent performances, Hart could find his place at next summer’s World Cup in doubt.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02:  Joe Hart of Manchester City warms up with Costel Pantilimon (R) prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Norwich City at Etihad Stadium on November 2, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo b
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Despite calls to axe the player from his starting lineup, England manager Roy Hodgson recently stuck with Hart during the Three Lions’ crucial wins over Montenegro and Poland, the latter of which saw the keeper make a crucial save.

After the European tie with CSKA Moscow, Manchester City face a trip to Sunderland, where they will be expected to keep a clean sheet.

Should Pantilimon remain in goal after this fixture—for a crunch tie with Tottenham Hotspur—the seriousness of Hart's dropping will come to realisation. Too long of an absence will certainly cast the player's long-term future into jeopardy.