Former Arsenal and Scotland goalkeeper Bob Wilson believes Pep Guardiola’s “extraordinary” decision to send Joe Hart on loan to Torino has left Manchester City short of leadership.
Guardiola caused an early season stir by exiling Etihad Stadium fans’ favourite Hart in Serie A and bringing in Claudio Bravo from Barcelona.
Chile international Bravo has struggled to settle in English football and a string of unconvincing displays led to him being replaced as first choice at the start of this month by Willy Caballero – Hart’s understudy for the previous two seasons.
“It helps if your goalkeeper is a leader because he sees everything from behind,” Wilson told Omnisport. “Joe Hart has a capability off the field and on the field to just be a leader. And I think Manchester City have lost that in the goalkeeping role.
“I think one of the biggest shocks this season was that Guardiola of all people, Pep Guardiola, decided that Joe Hart was not going to be the goalkeeper in his team.
“I would say if you ask 98 per cent of Manchester City fans they were as shocked as I was.
“I hope he was taking some good advice from people who really know what goalkeeping is about. I know this sounds a little bit strange but only goalkeepers understand goalkeepers and what is bad and what is good.
“So I think the decision that Guardiola made was the wrong decision. Manchester City are still a great side, a terrific side, but I think if I look at the two goalkeepers he has alongside Joe it is an extraordinary decision to let him go.”
Good to be back with the team, a long journey but definitely worth it! The support was amazing! Bello essere di nuovo con la squadra, un lungo viaggio, ma sicuramente vale la pena! Il sostegno è stato incredibile! #kaammoonnnn #forzatoro
A post shared by Joe Hart (@joehartofficial) on Nov 20, 2016 at 12:16pm PST
Wilson acknowledges Guardiola’s preferences when it comes to building attacks from deep but the man who also served as a coach at Arsenal and mentor to England great David Seaman believes such trends in the modern game have arrived at the expense of more fundamental elements of the goalkeeping art.
“I understand Guardiola likes to play from the back,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times this season clubs are trying to do what Guardiola is bringing in, with goalkeepers playing with their feet.
“They have got to be able to play with their feet but never to take the risks that they do now in the modern game. It is crazy.
“There are mistakes after mistakes being made by goalkeepers trying to play like John Stones out from the back.”
Wilson freely admits to being a huge admirer of Hart and does not think time in Italy’s top flight will have an adverse impact of the 29-year-old England man’s career at the top level.
“I don’t think going to Italy has hindered Joe Hart’s career at all,” he added. “I think there are plenty of clubs in the Premier League that would have jumped had Manchester City said, ‘he can go on loan to you’.
“I think he has done well. Everybody was jumping on an error in an early game but the game of football and being a top professional is about consistency.
“And here you have, not only the most consistent goalkeeper you will find around, but one of the best leaders.”