If Manchester City are to live up to the hype this season and finally secure that much-coveted Premier League trophy, there’s no doubt that a number of players will be key to achieving that very goal.
Deadly striker Sergio Aguero has already put down a marker for golden boot with some exemplary finishing, winger Adam Johnson is showing the sort of form that justifies his £7M price tag andMario Balotelli is absolutely bonkers but bullish and brilliant at the same time. Samir Nasri has slotted in perfectly and David Silva is, arguably, Roberto Mancini’s finest purchase.
One of the key elements to City’s emerging success, though, and one which will be overlooked when compared to the glittering accolades reserved for the aforementioned, is the solid rock on which City’s foundation is built – goalkeeper Joe Hart.
It takes a man of great quality and raw talent to oust a keeper of Shay Given’s ability from between the two white posts. But that’s exactly what young Hart did after biding his time, waiting in the wings and seizing his opportunity with, literally, both hands after impressing when given the opportunity.
Hart, a product of Shrewsbury Town’s youth system, signed for City at the tail end of the 2005-2006 season for £600,000. Knowing full-well that acquiring the number one shirt wouldn’t be a forgone conclusion, he waited patiently as the likes of Nicky Weaver, Kasper Schmeichel, and Shay Given kept him from the first team. Sensibly, he took loan stints at Blackpool, Tranmere Rovers and Birmingham City to gain some valuable match practice.
Following his return from Birmingham City which saw Hart impress in a string of outstanding displays, the 24-year old shot-stopper proved his worth for the men in sky blue side and is now establishing his name as one of the Premier League’s finest goalkeepers.
One only needs to take a look at City’s defensive record so far this season (only six conceded so far, one at the Etihad Stadium) to see how important a role he plays in a solid defensive unit.
Indeed, he has not just shown his credentials on the domestic stage; Hart has also proven his worth in the England set-up and made the number one jersey his. You feel that England have a man they can trust between the sticks after some comedy mishaps down the years from the likes of Robert Green, David James and Scott Carson.
Hart ticks every box on the list – he’s an excellent communicator, his kicking and handling of crosses is second-to-none and his reading of one-on-one situations shows experience which belies his tender age. It’s also quite rare that you see the man make such glaring errors, ones that are symptomatic of the life of a goalkeeper.
You feel that if Manchester City can back up their riches with silverware, they need a successful spine throughout the side – Hart is a formidable part at the base. Look at the Premier League winning sides of years gone by: Cech-Terry-Lampard-Drogba; Schmeichel-Stam-Keane-Yorke; Seaman-Adams-Vieira-Henry. Could Hart-Kompany-Toure-Aguero complete the missing piece? Don’t bet against it.
Courtesy of ThisIsFootball.com
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