After an erratic season from Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart last year, City boss Manuel Pellegrini decided to bring in some quality competition for the England No. 1 this summer. Argentine Willy Caballero was subsequently signed from Malaga, and if Hart’s performance in a recent friendly game against Liverpool is anything to go by, the move seems to be having the desired effect already.
Hart was dropped to the bench last season after a shaky start to the Premier League campaign, but came good in the second half of the season after he was reinstated to the first team. Throughout his career, Hart has endured more than a few incidents and dodgy spells, and it is consistency which Pellegrini will be looking for from Hart with the arrival of Caballero.
Hart is an outstanding shot stopper, one of the very best, but other areas of his game let him down at times, namely his kicking, decision making and concentration. Caballero is not as good as Hart is in terms of overall ability, but he is perhaps more rounded, more steady, more consistent and more reliable. It means that if Hart does begin to have another phase of antics in the upcoming season, then Caballero is ready and waiting to come in and more than capable of doing the job instead.
Hopefully, though, from Pellegrini’s point of view, the threat of Caballero will bring out the kind of consistency and reliability from Hart that the team needs. There’s no doubting Hart when he’s at his absolute best, but it’s the times when he dips from that level that are of concern.
Caballero has played well during preseason so far, and Hart also got his first piece of action in the second half against Liverpool on Wednesday. Hart looked focused and played well, making some crucial saves whilst he was on the field. If his performance and mindset in that game are any kind of gauge, then it looks safe to say that Hart has gotten the intended message, loud and clear.