Former Man City goalkeeper Joe Hart has revealed details of the chat with Pep Guardiola before leaving the club.
Hart revealed how he tried to convince Guardiola that he deserved a chance to prove he could remain at Etihad after being told he didn’t feature in the new manager’s plans.
According to Hart, he felt the writing on the wall when Guardiola’s appointment was confirmed in February 2016 and then he returned from pre-season early to discuss his future with the club’s new manager.
Speaking on the latest episode of the In the Stiffs podcast, to be released in full on Tuesday, Hart said:
I just felt it coming, the Euros didn’t go great for me, I had a very poor Euros that year. I got myself back in as soon as I could and I knew I was going to put it on his toes as to what was going on.
It was in China, I flew out early, I wanted to get in the door and have this conversation. He was very knowledgeable on my background, very knowledgeable on what we did, how I played football, it was a two-hour conversation that kind of ended with him saying ‘I can’t see this working’.
I said ‘I thought that might be the idea, I don’t agree with you’. He said ‘I’ll be the first person to be proved wrong but what I see in you isn’t what I want from my goalkeeper’.
I was like ‘it’s all very well saying that, but I’ve never been asked to do the kind of things I know you like your goalkeepers to do, so I think it’s only fair I be given the opportunity’. He said ‘of course you’ll be given the opportunity, but…’. As soon as there are any buts at the end you know there’s a decision.
Hart also revealed that he was desperate to be coached by Guardiola and wanted the opportunity to try and learn a new way of playing the game for a goalkeeper, but also accepts why the decision was made.
Hart told In the Stiffs during a detailed chat about his City career:
I wanted the opportunity to be coached by one of the best at it. Of course I didn’t know how to do it, why would I know how to do something that I’d never been asked to do or taught to do? I suppose he was right, I couldn’t do it, he couldn’t just drop me into a team to play like he wanted to at that moment in time.
I didn’t agree with it, but looking back and even at the time, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I’d love to be here and be a part of it, but if that’s not what you see we need to work out the best way to go.
I couldn’t say to him ‘are you mad, just watch me go out there and play this exact system’, I didn’t know it, not one of us knew it, but goalkeeper is a very specific position and he was ahead of his time in making it that position, so the fact he knew he couldn’t just drop me into it that was enough for him.
It was taken away from me, but so what? I’m not bigger than anyone and if that’s my path then that’s my path. The people of Manchester City will forever be in my heart, I’ll forever be grateful for that, but the team, the hierarchy, they’re businessmen.
Hart revealed his move to Torino on loan that summer came after moves to some big clubs in the English Premier League and in Europe were blocked due to demands over fees.
The season had started and I was on the bench, he’d put Willy Caballero in goal, no disrespect to Willy but it was a move to say to me ‘you are not playing’.
I knew I had to go but stuff kept going wrong, it was done and dusted here then there was a loan fee. I was close to a couple, then I was away with England, it needed to be done.
[Clubs had] already planned to do what they needed to do. I had four years left on a big deal, even to take wages on was tough in a structure where things had already been sorted, let alone buy me.
“Then it was floated to me ‘have you heard of Torino?’ I watched Italian football as a kid, but I was thinking how I can be available to Torino when I’m being blocked to these huge clubs in the Premier League and in Europe. Financially it can’t work, but it can work for Torino?
Hart only made one appearance in 2016-17, as former Barcelona stopper Bravo and Caballero shared the other matches.
Guardiola then signed Ederson ahead of the following campaign, the Brazilian remaining No 1 since then as Guardiola wanted a goalkeeper more capable with the ball at his feet and able to start attacks.
Hart went on loan to Torino and West Ham, and had short spells at Burnley and Tottenham before signing for Celtic last summer, where the 34-year-old is now first choice.