Joe Hart recalled this weekend, in a conversation with the ‘In the Stiffs’ podcast, the conversation he had with Pep Guardiola when the Spaniard arrived at Manchester City in 2016. Then, coming from a European where he left something to be desired, but having been a virtually undisputed starter since 2010 to play in his favour, the goalkeeper immediately wanted to know what the Catalan had in store for him and the conversation was not pleasant. “I felt it could happen because the Euros didn’t go well for me. So I went back to the club as soon as I could and I knew I had to ask him what was going to happen. We were in China, I flew in early and I wanted to walk through the door and have this conversation. He was very knowledgeable about my background, what I had done, how I was playing. We had a two hour conversation which ended with him saying ‘I don’t see this working’,” he began by reminiscing, before detailing the exchange of words between them. “And I said to him ‘it’s what I imagined, but I can’t agree’. And he replied ‘I’ll be the first person to admit the mistake, but what I see in you is not what I want in a goalkeeper’. ‘. I turned around ‘that’s very nice to say, but I’ve never been asked to do the things you like your keepers to do, so I think it’s fair to give me a chance’. And he accepted ‘yes of course I’ll give you a chance, but…’. And as soon as you hear a ‘but’ at the end of an answer, it means that the decision has been made”, a he assumed.
And despite the relationship ending this way, with a “but” that killed any chance of continuing and fighting for the spot, Hart can’t help but praise Guardiola and assume that after all, the Spaniard was right. “I wanted to have the opportunity to be coached by one of the best. Of course I didn’t know how to do things, but how could I know how to do something when I wasn’t never asked or learned? I think he would be right, I couldn’t do it. He couldn’t just put me on the team and expect me to play the way he wanted. I wasn’t ok at the time, but looking back… there are things that need to be done. I would love to stay and be a part of it all, but if that’s not what we’re looking for, we have to find a way out”.
And the departure did take place, conceived in three “acts”: first on loan to Torino (2016/17) and West Ham (2017/18), then, definitively, to Burnley, in 2018/19. Now he represents Celtic, where he is a starter in a team where the Portuguese Jota shines.
As for City, that year they alternated between Claudio Bravo and Willy Caballero, before in 2017/18 they moved ahead to acquire Ederson from Benfica, a goalkeeper who ended up fitting like a glove in his way to play. Guardiola wants his team to play.