We've heard it all before. Joe Hart is the savior England have been looking for between the sticks. He won the league with Manchester City last season, becoming the only the 5th English goalkeeper to ever win the title since the Premier League's inception, and his performances were splendid to say the least. His attitude was brilliant last season and some of his saves were, as they say, title-winning saves.
Euro 2012 came along and obviously there's not much he can affect on that end, given that England are pretty rubbish at any international tournament anyways, so there was no blame on him for any of their failings. But as this new season has kicked off, with his club defending its title, Manchester City haven't looked as solid as they were last season so far (though expect them to finish in the top 3 at the very least) and there still hasn't been a finger pointed at Hart for any errors or wrongdoings. Why should there be? He's English, isn't he? That should be enough of a reason to exempt him from criticism (sense the tone).
The belief I've got is that Manchester City have been tinkering way too much with their formation and that's been affecting them, but what does Joe Hart have to do with that? Well, pretty simple really. Barring the game against Borussia Dortmund in which he received more shots than a dying elephant trying to be saved does, he hasn't really had any stand-out performances and has actually made a few horrific mistakes that have gone unnoticed because something, or someone, else takes the plaudits on the other end of the pitch. So basically what I'm saying is that Joe Hart isn't THAT good. He's a good keeper, yes. But not THAT good. I'm saying that because there are people who have been talking about him as the "best goalkeeper in the world" (Rooney, I'm looking at you). Seriously.
Manuel Neuer, Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas would have a fair few things to say about that. But in the past week he's made two absolute blunders which were pointless and could have been avoided - by a true world class keeper. The first was the goal conceded against Tottenham (click here). Would any of the aforementioned keepers allowed such a goal to get past them? I doubt it. A header straight to his chest is somehow parried into the net. Clueless keeping. The second is the absolutely incredibly goal by Zlatan (click here) against England. Take nothing away from the Swedish striker, you need balls bigger than your head to try and pull that off and he did exquisitely. But have a look at Joe Hart. Why on earth would he come all the way out for that? There was no danger. It was a lost ball and yet he decided to make a run all the way out of his box when there was already a defender covering the ball. Big mistake. Zlatan pounces and makes Hart look like a fool. Clueless again.
There's a belief that Joe Hart has believed his own hype and that's a very dangerous thing. Time will tell whether or not this is just a knee-jerk reaction to two errors that are forgivable by City and England fans. But be sure of this - if these same mistakes were made by any other keepers playing in England, they'd be castrated and mutilated by the media. Joe Hart is running on thin ice and should be counting his lucky stars that he's English.