Is the number 1’s time coming to an end?

It’s been a known fact for some time now that Joe Hart’s time as Manchester City’s goalkeeper is over, and that his effectiveness and skill are in serious debate. When Pep Guardiola came in last summer, he made his intentions clear to oust the ex-Birmingham and Shrewsbury stopper by putting him up for sale, and signing Claudio Bravo to take the number 1 shirt. One year on, Hart is even further from Guardiola’s mind-set and the City first team, as new signing Ederson Moraes is expected to take the number 1 shirt.

Image of Joe Hart whilst at Torino from Sky Sports

The writing is very much on the wall for Hart at City, and perhaps even the Premier League with teams such as Everton passing over the opportunity to sign the shot stopper (instead opting for promising keeper Jordan Pickford). He now faces the prospect of not even sitting on the City bench, and instead rotting in the reserves. So why then is he being gifted the England number 1 shirt without proving himself?

Image from ESPN of Joe Hart in a recent England International against Scotland

Putting it simply, Hart is no longer England’s best goalkeeper: sure he has the maturity and the experience on the international stage, but he continues to make mistakes. In the recent match against Scotland, Hart was partially at fault for both goals, and similarly against France in the 3-2 friendly loss, and even as far back as last summer against Iceland.

He makes stupid, costly mistakes, which deeply dampens the team’s progress. Granted, for some of the goals the defenders did not defend well enough and the strikers did not score enough goals, but Hart cannot continue to be kept in place after these blunders. In the past, the England team has had no problem dropping keepers after mistakes: just ask Rob Green, Scott Carson, Paul Robinson and David James. Hart is another in a long line of English goalkeepers who continue to let the side down.

Image from Zimbio of Rob Green, Scott Carson and Paul Robinson

Given the current situation, Hart not being replaced cannot be blamed on there being a lack of competition. Jack Butland, Fraser Forster and Jordan Pickford are all able bodied replacements to the England number 1 shirt.

Before his horrible injury, many felt that Jack Butland was close to ousting Hart from the England team, yet his year long absence delayed this inevitability. With Butland getting 2 clean sheets in 5 games and a much average goals conceded ratio (1.60) to Joe Hart (5 clean sheets in 36 appearances and 1.72), it highlights that the old guard is nearly on its way out. Add in the stats of Forster (14 clean sheets in 38 games, 1.26) and Pickford (4 clean sheets in 29 appearances, 1.72), you have to question just why Gareth Southgate is picking a goalkeeper who isn’t even the best England have to offer.

Image from Reuters of Hart, Pickford and Forster in England training

From those stats, Fraser Forster sticks out as the best, having been a consistent part of the Southampton teams for many years now, and also pushing Hart for the number 1 jersey. Against Liverpool in May, Forster kept out one of the Premier League’s highest scoring teams, and had Manchester United taken advantage later against Arsenal, would have put Liverpool’s Champions League hopes at risk. Similarly other than Defoe, Pickford was a bright light in Sunderland’s dismal season which saw them relegated. His heroics helped to keep his poor side in the game on so many occasions, and stopped matches from being cricket scores. His potential has been highlighted through the £30 million fee that Everton paid for him, and there are little doubts that he could be one of the world’s best in the future.

Image from the Chronicle live of Pickford in action for Sunderland

Given that England’s place in the World Cup next summer is nearly all but confirmed, should this not be the time for our other goalkeepers to be given the chance to shine? After all, our own leading top scorer was dropped for not getting enough game time, and if the same happens to Hart, should the same not happen to him? Only time will tell, but don’t expect to see him as number 1 beyond the World Cup. If he is, it’ll be a major travesty.

Image from the Daily Mail of the 1966 World Cup triumph

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