Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Joe Hart on Borrowed Time at Celtic Park

Joe Hart celebrates title win at Hearts stadium

The decision by Joe Hart to trade the glitz and glamour of the English Premier League for the less salubrious surroundings of the Scottish Premiership has turned into a success story few could have envisaged.

The much-maligned former England No.1 was drifting into obscurity on the Spurs substitutes bench – his status dwindling with each passing week – and he looked set to end an illustrious career as a support act rather than the main protagonist.

The Career Turnaround of Joe Hart

Embed from Getty Images

From the Bench to the Spotlight

Two years ago, the ever-persuasive Ange Postecoglou lured Hart to Glasgow on the premise of first-team involvement – and he has become a trusty lieutenant for the uncompromising Australian. The 36-year-old is a loud voice, a demonstrative figure, and he has been a calming and reassuring presence throughout a period of significant change.

Read More: Joe Hart to Tottenham Hotspur: Dissecting a Move That Doesn’t Make Sense

Celtic put trust in the Englishman when few others would, and he has repaid their faith with performances and silverware. His durability is impressive, racking up over 100 appearances in two seasons, and the errors that once derailed his career and damaged his reputation have largely been eradicated.

Not a Perfect Fit

Perhaps the surprising aspect of Postecoglou’s keenness to recruit Hart was his willingness to compromise his principles. The Australian is fond of a sweeper-keeper, a modern-day stopper adept with the ball at his feet, and the former England No.1 was once, famously, banished by Pep Guardiola at Manchester City due to concerns regarding his distribution.

Hart has, though, been open-minded and demonstrated a willingness to adapt at Celtic. He is often situated outwith the parameters of his penalty area directing traffic and instigating attacks, yet despite his readiness to embrace change, rarely does he appear at ease. To his credit, Hart has tended to avoid making gaffs, although, in European competition, he is often guilty of flirting with disaster.

High Standards

In his first season at his new club, the shot stopper recorded an impressive 19 (54.3%) clean sheets from 35 Premiership games – and in the current campaign, with two games remaining, he has registered 15 (42.9%). His standards remain high, and in all probability, he will enter the final year of his contract with the gloves still in his possession.

Read More: Top Five Old Firm Managerial Debuts

‘The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining’ is a quote that may enter Postecoglou’s thoughts this summer. The goalkeeping area is not of pressing concern, Hart remains competent, but there are better candidates available more in sync with the manager’s ideology. Despite his unwavering trust in the veteran, there has always been a lingering sense that Postecoglou, due to financial constraints and necessity, reluctantly compromised when he made the unexpected call to bring the former England No.1 north of the border.

Uncertain Future

Unlike in his first two campaigns, Postecoglou does not have a lengthy summer checklist. Upheaval is expected to be minimal, with a focus placed on quality over quantity. Guaranteed Champions League participation next season also increases the manager’s scope to pursue upgrades in areas not considered urgent.

Hart is potentially just a few weeks away from joining a small band of players to win the primary domestic cup competitions in England and Scotland, but while he rightly revels in the acclaim, his time in the spotlight is unlikely to have much longer to run.


More Posts