Much criticism was laid at Manchester City’s doorstep when Pep Guardiola decided against giving Joe Hart the number one shirt, in theory, in 2016.
Guardiola decided against making Hart his first choice goalkeeper and made a £17million move for Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in August 2016.
Hart was undoubtedly a fan’s favorite at Manchester City, the majority of whom were critical of Guardiola’s decision to ax to the keeper. The two-time Premier League champion is on loan at West Ham and struggling to showcase any form.
While Guardiola courageously took the choice to make a move for Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, it was met by a number of skeptics who doubted the Spaniard’s decision. His fearlessness to confirm the Chile international as his number one is already paying dividend to City this season.
Under former manager Manuel Pellegrini, City struggled to adapt to unusual situations with the style of football and identity on the side lacking.
With Guardiola in charge City have become a reflection of Guardiola’s Barcelona team that famously started their attacking threat from the back. Along with Manuel Neuer, Claudio Bravo has regenerated goalkeeping as we know it with the “sweeper-keeper” style ever present around us. But it never worked at City, Bravo was a failing defensively and was unable to prevent shots from being stopped and looked nervous whenever called upon during his debut season.
On the contrary, Ederson’s long-range passing and short range skills have brought security and attacking threat from a position most unlikely.
In comparison to Joe Hart, one of the biggest criticisms heaped upon the Englishman was his ability to distribute the ball swiftly and efficiently long before talk of Guardiola coming to City first took place. His ever-lasting desire to punt the ball further forward and allow opposition the chance to gain position and catch City on the counter-attack quickly.
Regularly Hart’s attempts would end up in the stands which may benefit managers such as Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce, however, under Guardiola, the one cardinal sin would be to effortlessly provide the opposition with the ball on a regular basis.
Guardiola also allows his goalkeepers to play as an extra outfield player who would see many fans watching from behind their fingers. Ederson’s positioning enables his team to press higher in the opposition’s half, and that sort of contribution cannot be discounted.
Overall as a goalkeeper, can anyone claim Joe Hart is superior in ability to his Chilean counterpart or the Brazilian international? Bravo’s composure and professionalism throughout his career had catapulted him to the top of the European game. Like a fine wine, Bravo had gone from strength to strength, and many eyebrows were raised when Barcelona came calling in 2014 after a number of years at Real Sociedad.
In comparison, they say hangovers get worse with age, and the older Hart gets, the weaker his weaknesses seem to become. Hart’s biggest flaw was undeniably his left-hand side. For anyone doubting, rewind as an England fan to Euro 2016 and notice how many of the goals England conceded were scored at Hart’s left.
It wasn’t just the poor national team form, Hart’s style at City had been questionable since the beginning of 2016. It’s certainly not the first time he hit a career stumbling block as his form in 2013 saw Manuel Pellegrini drop England’s number one for two months.
That decision brought a lot of question marks towards Pellegrini but was he wrong? Unlike Hart, Bravo made the number one shirt his own at European football’s biggest club and quickly gained many admirers for his ability, his shot stopping, his leadership. At City, he failed miserably to adapt and re-produce the sensational form that seen him gain many admirers.
Guardiola knew within two months of signing Bravo that the 34-year-old would be unable to be the goalkeeper he desired to further the team’s progression. Last October, Txiki Begiristain was issued with the challenge of finding another shot-stopper and Brazilian Ederson was earmarked as City’s future number one.
Regarding Hart, the 31-year old has broken all records before him at City including success in title-winning campaigns to add to previous success in domestic competitions. What else could either man achieve at their respective clubs?
Signing Bravo was not just a replacement for Hart, it was a freshness within the squad that became complacent and far too comfortable when the club’s ambitions remain world domination on a footballing term.
There’s no denying he failed to adapt, but Ederson had produced the form Guardiola thought he was getting when he initially signed Bravo in August 2016.
Not many continue to agree with the minority that Hart’s dismissal was the wrong decision by Guardiola who should have kept his core of English talent and the nucleus to this Manchester City side.
However, people should know by now that Guardiola doesn’t choose players on reputations and despite Hart’s successful ten seasons at City, he doesn’t fear a media backlash if he feels the decision is the right one for the team’s overall success.
Guardiola has been ruthless at City in his two years, just ask Yaya Toure, but his decision to replace Joe Hart with Claudio Bravo was fundamentally the right decision – he just choose the wrong player for the position.
Now with Ederson between the sticks, Guardiola has upgraded a position many ‘experts,’ supporters and media pundits never thought was possible.