Published on October 29th, 2013 | by Ian Cheeseman1
Defeat at Chelsea
Just like most City fans, I’m still trying to get my head around the defeat at Chelsea; the one that might as well be titled “Hartgate”.
That last minute goal was the big talking point, but it seems to gave grown out of all proportion into an avalanche of anti-Hart criticism that threatens to destroy the Blues keeper.
Most of the fans – not all of them – but a sizeable majority (who have contacted me or those who joined in the post-match phone in) blame Joe Hart 100%, or even 200% or even 300% for the mixup that led to Chelsea’s winner.
Tuesday’s papers screamed out “Out you go” or “Broken Hart”, and I’ve no doubt that some of the City fans, so desperate to lay the blame at Hart’s door, will condemn those same papers for having an anti-City agenda.
How quickly we forget that Bob Wilson and many others, even including Roberto Mancini, were describing Hart as the best in the World not so very long ago. Remember his unbelievable performance against Dortmund last season? I do. Has Hart really gone from hero to zero, so dramatically, so quickly?
It’s true to say that he’s made a couple of mistakes in recent months, but is it all down to him that City lost at Cardiff, failed to score at Stoke or dominated at Villa so much in the first half that I felt sorry for Paul Lambert’s side, but never killed them off?
Was it Hart’s fault that Chelsea could have been three up at half time. Have we forgotten the terrible misses when unmarked in the City box, from Cahill and Torres and how the width of a crossbar from a much better Torres effort, also helped City along the way.
In Moscow it was a brilliant reaction save from Hart that denied Honda a late equaliser. Have we forgotten what a great asset to Manchester City Joe Hart is? I’m tempted to say he’s head and shoulders about his rivals, but I wouldn’t use that predictable gag would I?
Don’t get me wrong, Hart played a big part in that last minute gaff at Stamford Bridge. City’s second half performance and Sergio Aguero’s brilliant goal were impressive, and probably deserved a point, but the damage from that game threatens to be more than the dropping of two points. If Hart is turned on my his own club’s supporters it could be then end for him at City. Costel Pantillimon is unproven, in my eyes, as a regular Premier League keeper. Rumours have been around for months that Iker Casillas could be a City target, a player with a great past but currently second choice at Real Madrid. Is that the way forward?
Ask yourself this question, if the same situation happened at United under Fergie, would the fans have been so quick to change their minds about one of their own, or would there have been a collective “circling of the caravans”?
Hart started to come, presumably to quickly turn defence to attack with seconds to go, he came out too far and too fast. Nastasic didn’t look, and didn’t seem capable of adapting to the situation. He should have been more decisive. Can you imagine Mike Doyle or Andy Morrison heading that ball past the advancing keeper? I believe both of those players would have seen the keeper coming and hooked the ball into row Z, then made their feelings to Hart clear in no uncertain terms.
Hart was at fault, but so was Nastasic, but more to the point, why all this finger pointing by City fans at the still talented keeper. If Hart is bullied out of the team, and Pantillimon, Casillas or whoever, comes in and is no better, remember it was what 90% of City fans seemed to want. Someone once said to me, be careful what you wish for ; wise words.
I expect Patillimon to play in goal at Newcastle in the League Cup, but then again I expect eleven changes, such is the modern game.
May fans will say the League Cup game doesn’t matter, I don’t.
The Hart debate will continue on Blue Tuesday as Joe Corrigan is my studio guest, older fans will remember how the club and fans stuck by him when he had a sticky patch; later reaping the reward of some great performances.
Steve Howey also joins in, looking ahead to the Newcastle game, you’ll hear too from Martin Demichellis and a couple of fellow Blues will tell as about their idea for something special at the home game against CSKA Moscow.
– Ian Cheeseman