Thursday, 8 April 2010

Mancini/Hart talks planned

Aside from the future of Roberto Mancini himself, the question over the future of Joe Hart looms larger over the club than any other issue this summer. I had always presumed that Hart would stay at Birmingham City for 2010/11 but it seems increasingly likely that he will return to City, due to Mancini's comments today:
“We have a very good goalkeeper at the club in Shay Given. Shay and Joe Hart are two of the best in the Premier League, and it is important to have two good goalkeepers.

“The Premier League season is long, and if you are playing in the Champions League, as well as the FA Cup and the League Cup, then you need the players - you need two top goalkeepers.

“It is important that I speak with Joe in the weeks after the Premier League finishes, then we will see about next season. He has worked very well at Birmingham and he has developed."
This sounds clear: Joe Hart will come back to City next season to compete for a place with Given. I think this is probably the right move at the wrong time. Like most City fans, I like the idea of Joe Hart becoming our Number 1 at some point again in the future. But I don't see any value in his stagnating in our reserves. As good a season as he has had at St. Andrew's he is not yet a credible alternative to Given. Maybe with another season of Premier League experience he will be. Time is on our side here - Hart signed a five year deal three months before we bought Given, and so we've got him until the end of 2012/13.

It's quite possible that by the summer of 2011 or 2012 he will be as good a keeper as Shay Given, or at least the gap will be sufficiently narrow that it will be worth sticking with the man in his mid 20s rather than his mid 30s. But I don't think we're at that point yet. And I think that a season on our bench - rather than in the Birmingham City first team - will decrease the possibility of his reaching that point during his current City deal. If we want to keep him in the long term - and I really do - we should let him stay away next season.

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