McManaman and Hamann believe Pep is wrong to get rid of Hart
McManaman and Hamann believe Pep is wrong to get rid of England goalkeeper
If Manchester City fail to win the EPL title this season, manager Pep Guardiola has only himself to blame for his curious decision to offload goalkeeper Joe Hart.
In town for tonight's Battle of Europe between the England and Germany Masters, former Man City and Liverpool midfielders Dietmar Hamann and Steve McManaman were at the Oppo Suntec Store yesterday to meet fans and the media.
Both players disagreed with the way Guardiola unceremoniously sent two-time EPL champion and four-time EPL Golden Glove winner Hart on loan to Serie A's Torino and brought in former Barcelona custodian Claudio Bravo.
"I don't think it will necessarily cost them the title, but it was a mistake to let him go," said McManaman, 44, who was one of England's best exports to La Liga when he played for Real Madrid from 1999 to 2003.
"Joe Hart didn't deserve the treatment that he received. Didi and I have been in football for a very long time, so we totally understand why it's happened and why Pep has done it, but Joe would have been fine at Manchester City."
Compared to Bravo's three shut-outs and 14 goals leaked in 11 games for City, Hart has a slightly better record at Torino, keeping two clean sheets and conceding 11 goals in 10 games.
Hamann, 43, and a former Champions League winner with Liverpool, added: "I think Pep was after Marc-Andre ter Stegen at first, that was his first choice, but he didn't get him.
"Because of the way Pep wants his team to play - Manuel Neuer played like a sweeper for him at Bayern Munich - you need to be agile, you need to be able to move quickly. And to replace Hart with a 33-year-old, I can't really understand.
"I know why he did it but, if he had wanted to replace Hart, he should have replaced him with someone younger and better.
"Purely from a goalkeeper perspective, I'll probably pick Hart over Bravo and I'm not Hart's biggest fan.
"So the goalkeeper is one position where there are still doubts. You won't win trophies without a top-class goalkeeper. Whether Bravo is the type of goalkeeper to do that at City remains to be seen.
"Hart did it a couple of times - they won league titles and cups with him in goal. It's a big question mark."
After romping to 10 straight wins at the start of his City stint, Guardiola has found life in the Premier League not as easy as his time in La Liga or the German Bundesliga, winning just two of his last nine games.
Former Barcelona striker Thierry Henry had earlier described Guardiola's philosophy based around three Ps - play, possession and position - relating to the continual movement of the ball and retention of it.
It is when the team reach the final third that they are allowed the freedom to finish off moves, and Hamann feels that, while City will continue to be set up the same way under Guardiola, they may not be as convincing as Barcelona and Bayern Munich were under the Spaniard.
"It is harder to play the passing and pressing game in England, because the football there is quicker and more physical," said Hamann.
"Opponents press earlier and harder in the EPL than in all the other leagues. If you want to play from the back, it's hard to be successful on a consistent basis. Teams will force them to make mistakes, and they will concede chances and probably goals.
"Another difference is that Barcelona and Bayern are the dominant teams in their respective leagues and Pep had many of the world's best players at those clubs, but he hasn't got that at City at the moment."
McManaman feels that Guardiola will bring in more reinforcements in January's transfer window to boost their title chances.
He said: "Pep's assembling a very good squad and he'll probably bring in more players in January. They are still the favourites for the league as far as I'm concerned."
Despite his concerns over Bravo, Hamann added: "With the strength and depth City have got, they have the best squad in the league.
"They are the team to beat and, if you finish above City, you'll win the league."