Joe Hart at White Hart Lane Doesn’t Make Sense
The Decline of Joe Hart
Upon arriving at Manchester City, Pep Guardiola’s first course of action was to unceremoniously show Joe Hart the door. Since that eyebrow-raising decision, Hart has ventured to Italy and back without success.
Last season, Hart warmed the bench at Turf Moor, a scenario which no football follower worth their salt could have predicted four years ago. How, then, has the 33-year-old recently put pen to paper on a two-year-deal with a side fighting for Champions League qualification?
To Italy and Back
The years since his City exit have been a gradual hop, skip and jump down from the relative prestige of Torino, to scrapping it out for a starting spot with Adrian at West Ham, to the final humiliation of serving as understudy for Nick Pope at Burnley. At all three clubs, Hart was given every chance to stay between the posts, but his performances made the manager’s decisions simple.
From the outset, Hart’s move to Turf Moor was strategically questionable. Coming in at a time when Tom Heaton and Nick Pope were injured, he was awarded an instant run in the team. Months later, however, a 5-1 defeat at home to Everton consigned the former England stopper to the bench. Quickly, with the distinguished Burnley pair returning to fitness, Hart found himself as the lowly third choice.
Escape From ‘Burnley Hell’
Having failed to notch a single Premier League appearance during 2019/20, Hart would be the first to admit that his Burnley switch had not worked out well. Frankly, signing a two-year-deal when brought in as a short-term stopgap for an injured Tom Heaton was poor business for both sides.
With said contract running its course this summer, I suspected it might be time for the 2x Premier League winner to swallow his pride, drop down a division, and start rebuilding his shattered confidence.
Instead, Hart extends his stay in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur, of all places. Jose…Joe…explain yourselves?!
A Move of Necessity
With all Hart’s pedigree; 75 England caps and 348 appearances for Manchester City, trying to unseat a World Cup-winning captain in Hugo Lloris is optimistic, to say the least. For all his occasionally reckless faults, Lloris is a big game player capable of jaw-dropping moments. Based on events in the past four years, the Frenchman is unlikely to feel threatened.
Even more perplexing is the fact that Paulo Gazzaniga, another ‘keeper in Spurs’ ranks, has himself performed admirably when called upon. Indeed, Hart may have a scrap on his hands just to make the bench every week.
Of course, when approaching the twilight of one’s career one does not easily pass up the opportunity of working with Jose Mourinho. No doubt, Hart will also be sitting on a reasonable wage, albeit well short of the big bucks he was on at the Etihad.
All points towards a move borne out of necessity. For Spurs, he is an essential homegrown squad member in a group fraught with overseas stars. Furthermore, he is a big personality with major international and domestic tournament experience under his belt.
For Hart, it is hard to see his Tottenham transfer as anything other than a desperate attempt to stay in England’s topflight. Of course, he will tell the media he intends to take the number one spot under Mourinho. But…is that realistic? When the big man looks back on his career he may just have wished he had chosen to spend two of his later years out on the pitch, instead of up in the stands.