The first story involving West Ham United that we will look at is the Joe Hart transfer news from the summer. Joe Hart joined on loan from Man City. It has been clear for a while that Hart doesn’t have much of a future in Manchester. After an indifferent season in Italy with Torino, it wasn’t long before West Ham made a move once the transfer window opened. We’ll have a look at whether it’s a good move for club, player and country.
Nationality: 73 caps
Transfer Fee: Loan
Contact Length: 1 year
2016/17 League Stats: 36 starts
Verdict: A little background…Joe Hart’s position at Man City came under the spotlight last summer as Pep. made no secret of his desire to use a keeper more comfortable with the ball at his feet. That resulted in the purchase of Claudio Bravo, which lets face it didn’t really work out but regardless left Hart with no prospect of first team football at the time. When City had purchased Bravo it was also late in the window which didn’t leave Hart a lot of options for first team football, especially in England. So he ended up going on loan to Torino in Italy.
I’m sure most of you are aware that Hart didn’t have the best of times in Italy and heard that the President publicly criticised him, saying he “expected more” from England’s number 1. Whilst Hart got his wish for first team football the move did nothing really to enhance his career. If anything his reputation was left more tarnished.
Man City learnt from last season’s mistake and sorted out their goalkeeping situation much earlier this summer. They signed the impressive Ederson, Bravo was back on the bench and Hart was made aware much earlier that he could leave this season too.
Hart wanted to leave the Etihad permanently but I suspect, financially West Ham didn’t want to commit as heavily as that would require. With Man City keen sellers they might have also spotted weakness which helped them agree a more financially favourable loan deal. All in all, from what I’ve read, I’m lead to believe they managed to get England’s number for under £5mil for the season. That includes wages, of which they only pay a percentage and the loan fee. Not the worst business for such an experienced international keeper who has played a lot in European competition and is also a league winner.
This is arguably the most important season of Hart’s career to date though. When a successful manager like Pep. shows little regard for your reputation as club and country’s number 1, it’s going to make some people re-evaluate their opinion of you. The spell in Italy has been furthering damaging.
West Ham struggled last season and have made a bad start to this one. Bilic is under pressure, so Hart arrives in difficult circumstances. West Ham’s defence isn’t the strongest, so whilst they have a possible top 10 squad, it wouldn’t surprise me if the struggles continued unless major improvements are made in that department. Reid and Fonte look like shadows of their former selves. Hart could be very busy this season.
Last season, goalkeeper was a bit of a problem area for West Ham. Adrian made a number of high profile mistakes and ended up being dropped for Randolph, who himself was steady without being spectacular.
I’m not surprised West Ham moved for Hart but given the uncertainty over his recent form it’s far from a sure bet. Selling Randolph to Middlesbrough for £5mil which equates to Hart’s cost for the season plus change is again decent business. It would be widely accepted I’m sure that Hart is still the better goalkeeper of the three.
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) July 18, 2017
With the last opportunity to play in a World Cup also around the corner, the pressure is really on for Hart to perform this season.
His position with England is under serious threat. Butland is back from injury afterimpressing previously at Stoke. Pickford is looking a top prospect and was the only positive last season for Sunderland. Whilst Tom Heaton was up there with the best keepers in the league last season, other than Courtois, I’m not sure I can think of many others who performed better (he has of course recently been unlucky with a suspected dislocated shoulder however so could miss “several months”)
Southgate seems to favour Hart still though. His experience is likely the biggest factor. His performance against Slovenia, effectively ensuring England didn’t lose is probably another. England does have a habit of reverting to their comfort zone when it comes to team selection. So I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Hart starts at the World Cup.
Personally I’d go with Butland if he can come close to replicating his form prior to injury. Pickford’s time as England’s number 1 will come too I’m sure.
Hart’s form has been on the decline for too long now for me to personally view it as a blip. He had a bad Euros, poor season with Torino and I’ve been unconvinced by his performances in the World Cup qualifiers over the summer.
Being English, I really hope he gets his act together this season because as I say I really can’t see Southgate dropping him. The World Cup is well under a year away now and there has been no indication of anyone being given a chance. It’s an important position which has let England down a number of times in the past. If it were to happen in Russia the reaction would not be pleasant as I’m sure plenty of people share my observations about his recent form. It would have felt like a preventable problem.. if it becomes one.
I fear for England, Hart’s involvement does nothing to comfort me. I also fear a bit for West Ham and I doubt Hart will make a massive difference.
At 30 years old he is not that old and for a goalkeeper it should be the peak years, yet his career seems to be on a downward trajectory. I’ve seen nothing to suggest he is going to halt it.
Should Hart be England number 1 still? Good signing by West Ham? Let me know below.