It’s getting to the point where it’s hard not to feel quite sorry for Joe Hart.
The 31-year-old’s career has taken a spectacular nose-dive over the past two-and-a-half years.
He was Manchester City and England’s number one goalkeeper in the summer of 2016, but Pep Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad Stadium changed everything.
Hart has since endured difficult loan spells with Torino and West Ham, and has now lost his place at Burnley, who he joined on a permanent deal from City last summer.
Hart signed for the Clarets in a bid to resurrect his career but, following a series of unconvincing performances, now finds himself behind Tom Heaton in the pecking order at Turf Moor.
He is now being linked with a loan move to Preston, who currently sit 17th in the Championship.
With no disrespect intended to the Lilywhites, a move to the Deepdale Stadium would just about complete Hart’s fall from grace.
After learning that Hart could be off to Preston, The Sun have gone in hard on the experienced ‘keeper, posting an eyebrow-raising comment piece.
“Life in the second tier would be very different for Hart because there was a time when he really believed he was the equal of Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer and David De Gea at Manchester United,” The Sun’s Neil Ashton writes.
“He was never anywhere near that class. Hart did not have the commitment, the dedication or the determination to stay at the very top of the sport.”
Ouch. Talk about kicking a man when he’s down.
To say Hart lacked commitment, dedication and determination seems pretty harsh.
They don’t stop there, either.
“He is the fall-guy for Burnley’s terrible form, losing his place to Tom Heaton when things started going wonky at Turf Moor,” the comment piece continues.
“At best, he is first-team cover at a Premier League club, warming the bench for the rest of his career as a sort of enhanced version of Richard Wright.”
Again, seems a bit strong.
“There is an OK keeper in there somewhere, even if his career is in sharp decline. His reputation suffered at Euro 2016, with his bizarre tunnel rants before games becoming a theme of the tournament,” Ashton adds.
“By then he was under the guidance of performance coach Jamie Edwards, turning to the former basketball player because of his success with Gareth Bale and Luke Shaw.
“Edwards promises to train the football brain but something, somewhere has gone badly wrong with Hart. Headstrong and not short of self-confidence, Hart always knew best.
“Doubts about him had surfaced before the 2014 World Cup, when he astounded young England players with his alcohol consumption at the Lions & Roses dinner at the Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire.
“The next morning, just days before they departed for Brazil, Hart trained with England team-mates.
“When they flew back to London in disgrace, booted out of the tournament after three group games, Hart was part of the squad’s drinking club over the Atlantic.”
Whether it was necessary to bring that five-year-old story up is debatable.
Hart was a top ‘keeper at his peak but, sadly, his confidence has been left shattered following various blows over the past couple of years.
Let’s hope he proves certain people wrong by getting back to his best in the near future.