Over the past few seasons, Manchester City's Joe Hart rose to the position of one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. His performances could not be ignored for long, and soon enough he became the No.1 for the England national team as well.
Of late however, Hart's performances have undergone major scrutiny. The City custodian has looked far from his assured self between the sticks, and a series of uncharacteristic blunders in recent weeks have really raised question marks as to whether he still is the sensational shot stopper he was over the last few seasons.
Hart first signed for Manchester City from Shrewsbury Town, where he had plied his trade as a youngster, in 2006. He was then sent out to Tranmere Rovers in January of 2007, before City got him back and sent him out to Blackpool.
Post this stint, Hart joined up at Birmingham City, where he really made a name for himself, as a result of which City picked him up on a more permanent basis just a year later.
The rest, as they say, is history. Hart and Manchester City have never looked back since, winning one Premier League, one FA Cup and a Community Shield in the time that has passed. Hart has been key to City's success, and has built a reputation as a reliable, and even match winning goalkeeper, but his recent performances show anything but these traits.
Seven games into this season's Premier League, City have already shipped eight goals, including three against newly promoted Cardiff City and another three against Aston Villa. The problem has not been so much with City's defenders however, as with their usually consistent goalkeeper not playing up to the mark.
When City faced of against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, they were made short work of by the defending champions. Franck Ribery scored from improbable range, with a strike any goalkeeper worth their salt would be expected to keep out.
Hart was again responsible for the third goal which ultimately killed the tie. Not only was he beaten on his near post (a cardinal sin for a goalkeeper, and the most unlikely angle to score from), but also by a right footed strike from Arjen Robben (yet another statistical improbability!).
When City walked onto the pitch to face Everton the following weekend, Hart would no doubt be seeking redemption, but conceded to Romelu Lukaku early on in the piece. This was another strike which the City keeper got a firm hand to, and would be expected to keep out every single day of the week.
Hart's game seems to be lacking the composure and confidence we had come to associate with him. The sharks are definitely in the water, and it won't be long before they can smell blood, and it certainly won't be long before fans and critics alike will be wanting a replacement.
As it is, everyone knows how failure is not to be tolerated at the big spending City. City conceded all of 29 goals the season they emerged triumphant in the league, and at the current rate, come game 38, they would have let in anywhere between 40-45, not a likely figure for a club finishing top of the league.
Yet, you know what they say: form is temporary, and class is permanent, and if there's one thing we do know, it is that Joe Hart is a world class goalkeeper. I'm sure not many would argue that given time he will surely emerge from his temporary dip in form, and return to be one of the Premier League's top goalkeepers.
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