Plucky Pep drops Hart
Guardiola's ruthless decision proves why he's perfect for City But England boss coy on whether Rooney will remain as skipper
Pep Guardiola will never let Joe Hart rule his head.
The ongoing debate over Manchester City's goalkeeper is another example of English football's myopia and why the Spaniard is absolutely right.
Guardiola builds his game from the back. Hart's boots are made for walloping the ball as far as possible. It's an unworkable relationship.
A lack of Hart shows that Guardiola has the stomach to succeed.
As City prepare to welcome Claudio Bravo from Barcelona while quietly ushering their current No. 1 through the back door, their manager reveals his indifference to popularity.
He's not administering a Facebook page, chasing likes and adoration. He's running the world's wealthiest club and chasing the Champions League.
The sudden championing of Hart's cause, a goalkeeper who veered between average and awful at Euro 2016, only reiterates the English Premier League's bad habit of excessively trumpeting local talent.
Rather like England's decade-long obsession with Wayne Rooney, Hart's campaigners appear to be blinded by their patriotic insularity, refusing to acknowledge Guardiola's tactical success or read a stats sheet.
Joey Barton, a former Manchester City player, called his old club's behaviour "disgusting", insisting that the management of his time would not have displayed such crass disloyalty (of course they would - and did.)
Gary Neville called on Hart to stay and deal with the media attention that comes with being "a big England player".
As a recent England coach, Neville could hardly say anything else, but the comments came across as delusional, perhaps typical of an English mindset that automatically elevates a member of the Three Lions.
Fortunately for City, Guardiola doesn't suffer from the kind of jingoism that turns England footballers into world-beaters before every major tournament fiasco.
While the hotheads focus on Hart's loyalty, his 347 City appearances, two league titles and League and FA Cup triumphs, Guardiola takes a dispassionate look at the stats.
When Hart's distribution is compared to Guardiola's goalkeeper at Bayern Munich, Manuel Neuer, he really can't pass the buck.
If he did, he'd probably knock it out for a throw-in.
In Neuer's last three seasons, the Bayern custodian played a total of 2,077 short passes to his teammates. Hart managed just 562.
In an average game, Neuer completed 33 passes to Hart's 22 and was more accurate, too. The German's completion rate was 85 per cent, compared to the Englishman's 49 per cent.
Neville may suggest that Hart could stay at City and improve his passing range. Others may point to the cliched, blood-and-guts nature of the EPL, with pitches played like pinball machines as balls are pumped over the top.
To which, Guardiola is likely to shrug his shoulders and say, "So what?".
His job isn't to redefine the more rudimentary aspects of English football any more than it's his role to rehabilitate a goalkeeper raised in the same environment.
His overriding task is to win the Champions League. City managers lose their jobs when they don't.
And to win in Europe, to overcome the Spaniards, City must play like the Spaniards and that means building from the back with John Stones and, in all probability, Bravo.
Rather than take pity on their exiled, fellow Englishman, City supporters should take comfort in the newfound fortitude in the dugout.
Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini never doubted Hart's shot-stopping capabilities. His reflexes can appear borrowed from a cat pushed from a hot-tin roof.
But there were always mistakes, for both club and country.
Mancini toyed with selling him. Pellegrini dropped him. But Hart always prevailed. His local hero status made him practically invulnerable.
Not any more. Guardiola is interested only in the player, not the passport, postcode or even past pedigree.
At the age of just 37, he took on the untouchables at Barcelona.
Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto'o were global giants, but didn't fit Guardiola's template. So he got rid of them all.
In comparison, Hart is small fry.
Those still defending Hart seem to view Guardiola's ruthlessness as an affront to their patriotism. How could he treat England's No. 1 so shabbily?
But that's the advantage of a foreign manager who also happens to be one of the most tactically astute of his generation.
He brings no emotional baggage or misguided loyalty to a national cause. Instead he brings an innate sense of what a team needs to win.
Unlike Neville, Guardiola doesn't see "a big England player". He sees a goalkeeper who can't pass properly.
Allardyce will pick Hart
New England boss Sam Allardyce has said Joe Hart will "definitely" be in his first squad when the team are announced on Sunday, but he is yet to reveal who will captain the Three Lions.
Speaking at St George's Park one month on from his appointment as Roy Hodgson's successor, Allardyce (above) confirmed goalkeeper Hart, who has lost his place at Manchester City to Willy Caballero under Pep Guardiola, will still be part of the England set-up for the opening World Cup qualifier in Slovakia on Sept 4.
Hart, 29, endured a tough summer with England as they crashed out of the European Championship at the Round-of-16 stage against unfancied Iceland - with Hodgson leaving his post as a result.
And, since then, new City boss Guardiola has told Hart he is free to leave the Etihad Stadium, preferring Caballero in his first three competitive matches in charge.
Despite that, Allardyce will select Hart - capped 63 times to date - in his maiden squad.
"The problem for any player you want to select for England, not just in isolation but also in total areas, is that it will be a concern if a player doesn't play for his team," he told Sky Sports News.
"I think that you have to have your doubts about that.
"But, before I meet up with Joe I don't really know where he lies in that process at the moment, so I think that when we pick the first squad and then the lads come here (St George's Park) there will be some lads who don't play on a regular basis.
"In terms of picking Joe and the goalkeeper that he is, he will be in the squad, definitely.
"What do we do? I won't really know that until I speak to Joe and that will be the same with most of the players when they arrive."
Former Bolton, West Ham and Sunderland boss Allardyce admitted at his unveiling that he was unsure whether current skipper Wayne Rooney will retain the armband under the new regime.
And he is still not ready to announce who England's new captain will be, saying: "We will announce the squad then we'll meet up and the first thing I would probably choose to tell the public and the media would be who is going to be the captain, so we can get that one out of the way.
"The team selection and the first 11 will be later on in the week.
"He's (Rooney) the most successful England player for the last decade, he's broken every record at league level, Champions League level and international level, so yes, we should talk very much about Wayne and about how good he is, what a fantastic player he is and what a really, really good captain he is."
- PA Sport.