West Ham Strawberries and Goalkeeping clattered dreams! Published 17/04/18 on Irons United
The summer break is fast approaching and all assume that the season has been saved…but who will continue to make the saves in goal next season? Joe Hart returned in the Burnley game and was justifiably blamed for the third goal, however in his defence, the whole team had lost their heads at that point!
However, much to everyone’s surprise, Moyes continued with Hart into the Southampton game, whilst banishing Adrian to the substitute’s bench once again. Perhaps Moyes had begun to see frailties in the Adrian game and had started to look vulnerable on crosses too, or possibly Hart had shown a lot more form in training…whatever the reason for the decision, it appears to have been correctly made.
In that encounter, Hart was barely tested however he was relatively composed and controlled his area with authority. The most compelling element about the Hart over Adrian conundrum is the point at which either keeper aims to distribute the ball. Hart has more variation in his game, a greater sense of urgency and distributes well to the wide angles, whereas Adrian tends to slow the pace down, is more lethargic with his decision making and tends to fire centrally up the field.
Many fans were still resolute in defiance that Hart should be nowhere near the West Ham goal, however most would also concede that Adrian was starting to make more unforced errors, just as he had done the previous season before being replaced by Randolph. The game against Chelsea would prove to be a much sterner test of will and of the West Ham defences, however Hart was made to come to the rescue on more than a solitary occasion…rightly earning him the man of the match award too.
The question arose whether Hart should retain his position prior to the game and once again Moyes was proven correct. Was Hart really becoming the goalkeeper for the big occasions and the pressure matches? As with all players, goalkeepers thrive on confidence and Joe Hart is the epitome of that trait…although one would be forgiven for assuming his confidence is ever in doubt. However he received the full force of the fan’s displeasure when under Bilic, where he let in lots of goals however what many would fail to realise is that the team performances were a shambles too.
The fans would welcome Hart with open arms, of course, if he can perform in such a manner for the remaining games of the season, albeit he will miss the Manchester City match one assumes as being ineligible to play against his parent club. Would his good form make him more likely to go to the World Cup? Possibly so…and even into the starting line up, however West Ham fans should only be concerned with what kind of job he can do for the club before a decision is made upon his future.
On Monday night against Stoke City, he performed once again to a high standard and was the rock behind a defence that is still vulnerable to penetration given a better opponent’s attack, however like all goalkeepers, he will still make occasional errors. Some of which will be calamitous but hardly in the same vein as a David James perhaps, but for the most part he will be judged by the fans according to how many goals he lets slip by. Although the goal conceded was a Hart error as he fumbled a shot that came through a forest of players…so there’s still a lot more convincing to be done!
Of course if that was the only marker to judge a goalkeeper by, then their lives would be a hellish existence. However, Hart does have that something extra in the locker but has suffered in a poor team since losing his place at Manchester City. Currently Moyes would tend to favour him, but of course he also needs to be more consistent too, regardless of how poorly the defence is playing.
Fans would almost certainly unilaterally vote to see Hart out of the club for good, however when a couple of good or bad performances can sway fan opinion, it would appear that he would have a long road to travel to win over the support and fill the whole stadium with confidence.
Possibly, Hart has had an unfair crack at the whip…and being a loan player many would question why would any fan favour him over a goalkeeper the club actually owns? Perhaps this is his final test in goal for Moyes and for the club as they would stake their claims in the summer to keep Moyes and to offer Hart a permanent contract…but where would this leave Adrian?
Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, the club will have to reinforce all over the pitch come the summer transfer window…and the goalkeeper spot being no exception. The debate will rage on but if Hart does stay, will Adrian want to fight for the number one spot or would he want to move onto pastures new…perhaps back to Spain? The summer deals will be hotting up soon amongst the West Ham strawberries and clotted creams…and the goalkeeping clattered dreams!