Guardiola rules out Hart return


-file photo

-file photo

MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola has indicated that England goalkeeper Joe Hart’s Manchester City career is over, regardless of how well he performs at Torino.

Hart has impressed in Serie A since his arrival on a season’s loan in August, having been frozen out by Guardiola.

The City manager decided on his arrival at the club last July that Hart was not suited to a possession-based style of football.

Claudio Bravo was brought in from Barcelona as Hart’s replacement, but the Chile international has been unconvincing, losing his place to Willy Caballero, the veteran back-up goalkeeper, in recent weeks.

Yet asked if there was any chance of Hart coming back, Guardiola shook his head and said: “I’m so happy with Willy and Claudio.”

Guardiola has made clear that he would be content to go forward with Bravo and Caballero as his two goalkeepers next season. It would mean sorting out a new contract for the Argentine, 35, whose current agreement runs out in June.

“There are five, six players out of contract but they know the situation. Of course there is a risk, maybe they can sign a contract for another club and we have to accept that. But we are going to decide in the last months of the season,” Guardiola said.

On the possibility of signing another goalkeeper this summer, Guardiola added: “I will decide about that at the end of the season. I trust a lot in both and we’ll decide – not just about the goalkeepers, the midfielders, wingers, strikers, full-backs. We are going to decide at the end of the season.”

Asked if he might go into next season with just Bravo and Caballero as his senior goalkeepers, Guardiola replied: “Yes.”

Guardiola agreed a three-year contract before taking over at City in July, and has the support of Sheikh Mansour, the club’s owner, to continue beyond that.

The manager received that message when he met the owner during City’s recent warm weather training break in Abu Dhabi.

– Significant challenge –

City’s manager has begun the process of trying to remodel the club as one who can challenge to win the Champions League on a regular basis, while also bringing through the finest young talent via their academy.

However, he has acknowledged that adjusting to English football has been a significant challenge, as he faces the possibility of ending a season without a trophy for the first time in his managerial career.

Winning the Premier League this season looks unlikely, with City in third place, 11 points behind leaders Chelsea, although there is still the possibility of success in cup competitions.

Guardiola’s meeting with City’s billionaire owner was their first; the manager came away with the belief that he has a clear mandate to pursue long-term success.

He said: “He knows and I know that it all depends on the results. He would like that I stay here for a long, long, long, long time. But of course it depends on the results.

“If not, they would say: What happened? What can we do? What do we need to improve? That’s the process. To finish the process, they are going to help us.”

Guardiola won 21 trophies in seven years as a manager before arriving at City, but is aware that winning the Premier League was not enough to save his predecessors Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini from the sack when they failed to build on that success.

“We didn’t speak about targets. They will be happy if we win. I know we have to win but I’ve handled that in the past and I will in the present,” he said.

“We spoke about private lives, families, the club. What my impression is after six months, half-a-year here.” –AFP