Joe Hart has been earning rave reviews for a series of scintillating performances for Manchester City this season, but Roberto Mancini insists his young goalkeeper still has a long way to go before he can be likened to being the best in the world.
The 24-year-old England international stopper has been one of the Citizens' standout performers in the Premier League this term, and turned in another impressive display in yesterday's 1-0 victory over Aston Villa.
With the scoreline tentatively poised, Hart came to City's rescue with a superb late save to deny Darren Bent and secure all three points, keeping the club's title tilt firmly on track.
But Mancini played down the superlatives currently being thrown Hart’s way when questioned in his post-match interview, and instead reserved praise for the collective team performance rather than an individual effort.
"In the world I don't think because he is young and there are other keepers with more experience," he told Sky Sports.
"I think he is one of the best, but he needs to improve because he is young. He has many years in front [of him], but he could become one of the top keepers.
"I think Joleon [Lescott] played a fantastic game, but not only Joleon or Gareth [Barry] I think first half we played fantastic football and we were missing only a goal.
"Second half we scored one goal, but we have other chances and all the players played very well."
Mancini admitted his side needed to be patient to secure the win after dominating the game against a stubborn Villa outfit, but was ultimately pleased with the outcome, which returned City to the top of the table after Manchester United had put the pressure on 24 hours earlier.
"This evening it was a difficult game," he concluded. "We knew this before the game and I think the guys played fantastic football.
"It is normal [to be patient] because we had a lot of chances to score first half, second half and it was a difficult game as all teams defend very well and we had to be patient."