Mancini: Hart could be dropped
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has insisted he will drop goalkeeper Joe Hart if his form drops significantly.
Hart has come in for criticism in recent weeks after a number of below-par performances, particularly in midweek for England against Sweden when he suffered at the hands of four-goal striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
This comes just a matter of weeks after the 25-year-old was lauded as one of the best keepers in the world after helping City to a 1-1 Champions League draw with Borussia Dortmund, when he almost single-handedly kept the Premier League champions in the game.
However, Hart’s form his since deteriorated and his Italian manager has insisted no player is untouchable and he would not hesitate in dropping Hart if this trend continues.
Mancini told Sky Sports: “For me he is the first choice but if he does not play well I change. I don’t have any problem.
“Joe is like Mario [Balotelli], like all the other players. For England I think it will be the same. If he does not play well maybe the manager can change the keeper.”
Costel Pantilimon is Hart’s understudy at the Etihad Stadium, although he is relatively untried in the Premier League.
However, Mancini has insisted he has faith in his No.2 goalkeeper to make the step-up, but still believes Hart will regain his form quickly.
He continued: “Costel is a good keeper and if Joe does not play (well) for five or six games, probably I can change the keeper. This is normal.
“But I trust totally in Joe, for me he is the best keeper in England. I am sure he can do some mistakes sometimes, this is a keeper’s life.
“If a keeper does a mistake, you concede a goal and you lose. If the striker doesn’t score a goal the game can finish 0-0.
“Ibrahimovic can score against every keeper. Ibrahimovic for me is one of the top five strikers in the world.”
Mancini has always shown great faith in Hart, and made him first-choice in 2010 at the age of 23.
That proved to be a difficult decision for the Italian to make, as then-No.1 Shay Given had done little wrong and was considered one of the best keepers in the country.
However, both Hart and Mancini have rarely looked back since then, and the current criticism of the goalkeeper is one of the first hurdles the pair have had to overcome.
Mancini continued: “Two years ago when Joe was young a lot of people wanted Shay in goal but I decided this because I thought Joe could become one of the top keepers in the world.
“Joe is young and needs to work very hard. Only like this can you improve your performance.”
Hart will get the chance to silence the doubters later today when City take on Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League.