Football

It's head over Hart

Guardiola warns that tough decisions, like the axing of 
No. 1 goalie, need to be made

PLAY-OFF, SECOND LEG

MAN CITY 1

(Fabian Delph 56)

STEAUA BUCHAREST 0

● Man City win 6-0 on aggregate.

Manchester City's fans must accept hardnosed decisions like the sidelining of goalkeeper Joe Hart if the club are to make progress in the Champions League, manager Pep Guardiola has warned.

City's 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest yesterday morning (Singapore time) sealed their place in the competition's group phase, but supporters used the game to voice dissent over Guardiola's treatment of Hart.


Pep Guardiola. PHOTO: REUTERS

The England goalkeeper, who is due to be replaced by Barcelona's Claudio Bravo, was serenaded throughout, but Guardiola said he had been hired by City to make difficult decisions.

"I'm here to take decisions. I was honest with Joe, I was honest with the club, I was honest with all the players in the squad," said the Catalan, whose name was also chanted by City's fans.

"I have to take decisions and I can't deny what I feel. When the fans are unhappy, I can completely understand that.

"What Joe has achieved at this club is much more than I did in my past, which is just one month here, and I'm pretty sure what I will do with this club.

"Because there are a lot of players who are so important. Guys like Yaya (Toure), like Samir (Nasri), like David Silva, like Gael Clichy, like (Aleksandar) Kolarov make this club like this.

"The club have just once in their life gone further than the group stage, to the semi-finals. It was last year with Manuel (Pellegrini).

"So it's not a club with a European (competition) history. These guys who were here create this step and I respect (them) a lot. But I'm here and I have to take decisions.

"You can't think when I was in Barcelona, in (Bayern) Munich all my decisions were right. Time showed I made mistakes. But I have to take it.

"That's why Manchester City contacted me and asked me to be the new manager. I accepted. If I accept, you have to follow me. You have to play the way I want to play." - AFP.

"Pigs do fly!"

- Manchester City’s Joe Hart, when asked about his successful passes during the game, which were, ironically, traits that Pep Guardiola was looking for in a goalkeeper

Crowd chants 
for Joe

Manchester City secured their place in the Champions League group stage, but the spotlight at a less-than-full Etihad Stadium was on Joe Hart.

The goalkeeper, whose name was chanted by the home fans throughout the game, made his first competitive appearance this season and was named captain for the night, after he was frozen out by new manager Pep Guardiola earlier.

City's fans sang "Don't sell Joe Hart!" and "City's number one!", while a second-half chorus of "Stand up if you love Joe Hart!" drew almost the whole stadium to its feet. There was also a banner reading, "A good Hart these days is hard to find".

"That was a really special night for me," Hart told BT Sport. "We all know there is a situation going on. This is a special place for me... But situations occur in football. We are men and we get on with it."

With Claudio Bravo poised to complete a 20 million-euro ($30m) move from Barcelona, this could have been Hart's 348th and final City appearance.

Hart likened his situation to a "circus", but he stopped short of criticising Guardiola.

"We have a top manager whom the club have wanted for a long, long time," he said.

DEAL WITH IT

"He will have his opinion on things and outside of the charade and all the rubbish that is being talked, we are dealing with it like men inside and we will come up with a solution."

Asked what the future held for him, Hart told BT Sport: "It's not for me to say. It is what it is."

A veteran of City's two Premier League title wins, two League Cup successes and 2011 FA Cup triumph, the 29-year-old England goalkeeper applauded all four corners of the ground before going off at the end.

Hart has been linked with a move to Everton or Sevilla.

Ironically, he attempted several successful passes during the game, traits that Guardiola was looking for in a goalkeeper. Asked about his successful footwork, Hart joked after the game: "Pigs do fly!"

- Wire Services.

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