In his half a decade or so in the top flight of English football, Joe Hart has certainly been subject to a somewhat strange and ever changing career.
He still remains first choice for club and country, but for how long the 27-year-old can keep that up is another matter altogether.
The footballing community in general seemed to have somewhat fallen out of favour with the Manchester City shot-stopper in the past few seasons. For one reason or another, Joe Hart just doesn’t seem to have the unanimous backing that once saw him labelled as potentially the best keeper in world football – on these here shores at least.
Whilst the long-term City man is by no means facing an abrupt end to his time in the Premier League by any means, just where does Hart stand today in our overall collective mind-set, and should he ultimately still remain England’s first choice keeper?
Well one thing that must be mentioned before this debate truly gets under way, is the fact that upon becoming the nation’s number one goal-keeper and preferred man between the sticks, the Shrewsbury born star was definitely over-hyped to some extent.
Joe Hart was simply nowhere near the world class levels many had being touting for him just after the 2010 World Cup – yet several TV pundits, including former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher, saw fit to place him above the likes of Manuel Neuer in the list of best keepers plying their trade in the current game. Looking back now, such a statement does seem somewhat laughable.
Hart was always a good goal-keeper, but he nevertheless had some major weaknesses within his game that still needed addressing. He would seem over-confident on occasion, rushing out far too quickly and only making things easier for his opposing striker. His distribution also often left a lot to be desired – and as the up and coming young keeper hadn’t actually achieved a great deal in the game when the sensation initially started – there really was no reason to go so overboard with the praise for Joe Hart.
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With the use of hindsight it becomes clear how dangerous such a desire to over-hype can be. Because the Etihad favourite now has to operate with that vast amount of pressure and expectation on his back, any minor slip-ups made by Joe Hart invariably receive far more attention than necessary.
The process becomes somewhat of a vicious circle: The mistakes start to happen, then the media attention surrounding the player increases to dramatic levels, thus creating further errors as a result of the burden. Rinse and repeat.
In the past, Manuel Pellegrini has seen fit to replace the England shot-stopper with both former Malaga keeper Willy Caballero, as well as current Sunderland man Costel Pantilimon – both of which are far inferior to Joe Hart in terms of their overall quality.
2014/15 may have nevertheless been a fairly steady campaign for the player so far this season though – but as Joe Hart no longer commands the untouchable presence that once came oh so naturally just a few seasons ago – calls for the Manchester City man to be replaced by the likes of Southampton’s Fraser Forster are subsequently given all the more credence in the modern game.
As Euro 2016 will still likely prove a good opportunity for Joe Hart to remain in place for Roy Hodgson’s national side however, expect the courageous keeper to keep things ticking over for both club and country across the next few seasons at the very least.