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Pep Guardiola forgets that goalkeepers need hands

Thursday 2nd March 2017
Joe Hart's future will be decided at the end of the season, according to Pep Guardiola, a man who has seemingly forgotten that goalkeepers need hands.
Pep Guardiola has certainly created controversy since taking his place as Manchester City's manager. The dropping and reinstating of Yaya Toure. The doubts cast over Sergio Aguero's future. The inconsistent form of the near £50 million John Stones. However, perhaps none of his decisions had as huge a ramifications as when he decided that goalkeepers didn't need hands.

In his first summer at the club, fan-favourite Joe Hart was unceremoniously dumped out on loan, primarily, because he wasn't adept enough with the ball at his feet. It was the first sign that Guardiola would be unwavering and uncompromising in the implementation of his famed possession-obsessed style, even in the notoriously physical and challenging Premier League.

Hart departed for Torino and in came Claudio Bravo, a goalkeeper that had played under Guardiola at Barcelona. Between he and Willy Caballero, who was already at the club after being brought with Manuel Pellegrini to provide some competition for the then well entrenched Hart, they have transpired to bumble their way through a terrible season, littered with handling errors, unclaimed crosses, unsaved shots and, ironically, moments of madness with the ball at their feet.

And now, as the season enters the closing stages and people's perspectives shift towards the summer, the question of Hart's future again enters centre-stage.

Guardiola, in his pre-match press conference as his side prepare for their FA Cup fifth round replay with Huddersfield Town, stated that Hart's future would not be discussed until the end of the season. That is, given the media frenzy that has encircled his decision to move on from Hart for two undoubtedly lesser players, a wise statement. There is no need to allow a rumour, whether it be a Hart departure or a Hart return, to thrive.

But his comments are interesting. Guardiola has previously stated that he is happy with both Bravo and Caballero's performances so far this season, which, given their respective struggles, seems like a rather odd claim to make from a man who is renowned for his footballing intelligence.

Nevertheless, that is Guardiola's opinion and ultimately that is the only opinion that pertains to the future of Hart. While the media, the fans and the analysts may dispute his assessment of Hart, Cabellero and Bravo, only Guardiola's matters. And for Joe Hart that is a major worry.

Guardiola clearly does not assess keepers as the rest of us would. Throughout his management, he has demanded his keepers to play as a sweeper, marshalling balls over the top of a defence that, in his possession-based approach, is often high up the pitch and exposed. He has also sacrificed size and strength for agility. Seemingly, the ability to claim crosses, the ability to command a penalty area and the ability defend set pieces is not a priority for Guardiola.

It is an odd way to assess goalkeepers but that is his way.

For Hart, he must, if he wishes to stay in Manchester, either hope that Guardiola changes his mind and recognises the importance of hands or ask Paul Scholes for some lessons in how to kick a ball. At this point, I'm not sure which is more unlikely.
Andrew Dowdeswell

A sport obsessed 20 something who just really wants Arsenal to finally win the league. Please Wenger, what the hell happened to you?!

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